Monkey business by porcelain gangs leaves stately homes counting cost
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article7140720.ece

Ben Hoyle and Jack Malvern

England’s stately homes are being targeted by thieves with a penchant for antique porcelain — and their victims include the Prime Minister’s father in law.

There have been at least 21 major thefts and 15 attempted robberies in the past three years The Art Newspaper reports this week.

Dick Ellis, former head of Scotland Yard’s art and antiques unit, said that three organised gangs, each with a distinctive style, were believed to be behind the thefts.

One gang relies on an unusually small burglar to squeeze through narrow openings; another operates at night, often using a ladder, and removes sections of glass from windows; the third targets country houses open to visitors, using very rapid, forced entry. Gangs often also take curtains and cushions to use as packing for the fragile porcelain, though some pieces are damaged during thefts.

Mr Ellis assembled the data for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, which is handling the most serious case, at Firle Place in Sussex, where £500,000 of porcelain was stolen last summer. Others include Sutton Park, North Yorkshire, the home of Sir Reginald Sheffield, the father of Samantha Cameron, the Prime Minister’s wife.

Firle Place was burgled on July 19, 2009. Thieves entered the 18th-century mansion on the Sussex Downs at night. They climbed a ladder, entered via a window and broke into two display cabinets. Among the losses were a Meissen statue, The Indiscreet Harlequin, around 1743, by Johann Kändler, and a rare Sèvres Hollandois Nouveau vase of 1761. None of the 20 pieces has been recovered. Firle Place is owned by the family of the London old-master dealer Deborah Gage.

The theft at Sutton Park was on May 21, 2009. The Georgian house has been owned by the Sheffield family since 1963. Like Firle Place, it is open to visitors. Objects stolen included a £20,000 Meissen teapot in the form of a monkey, and a 19th-century bronze bust of an Asian woman by Charles Cordier. The thieves spent no longer than a minute inside the house. On April 17 there had been an attempted burglary in the porcelain room.

Mr Ellis believes that the thieves dispose of the porcelain quickly. Some use eBay, as with the theft from Longner Hall in Shrewsbury last August, when losses included a 28-piece Worcester dessert service, Most of the stolen pieces have not been recovered and Mr Ellis suspects that many have gone to Europe, where Meissen and Sèvres are highly collectable. Items may well be sold at large antiques fairs in England, usually within a few days of the theft, and passed to unsuspecting Continental dealers. There have been very few arrests.

“British police forces are run on a county basis,” Mr Ellis said. “No force has an overview of similar crimes occurring elsewhere, so investigations are limited and local.”

Julian Radcliffe, chairman of the Art Loss Register, which enables people to find out whether items are stolen, said thieves had learnt that porcelain dealers were less assiduous than others in making checks. Criminals probably gain their knowledge of the market from dealers on the fringes. “In Ireland they would call them tinkers,” he said.

Raided properties

Burton Agnes Hall (Historic Houses Association) East Yorkshire

Castle Howard (HHA) North Yorkshire

Cusworth Hall South Yorkshire

Firle Place (HHA) East Sussex

Grantham House (National Trust) Lincolnshire

Hastings Museum East Sussex

Lanhydrock (NT) Cornwall

Longner Hall (HHA) Shropshire

Munstead House Surrey

Penshurst Place Kent

Private house Surrey

Private house West Yorkshire

Redbrick Mill West Yorkshire

Shugborough Hall (NT) Staffs

Sion Hill Hall (HHA) North Yorkshire

Sutton Park (HHA) North Yorkshire

The Hoo Hertfordshire

Temple Newsam West Yorkshire

Thorpe Hall East Yorkshire

Uppark (NT) West Sussex

West Green House (NT, tenanted) Hampshire

May 31st, 2010

Posted In: art theft, ceramics theft

Six selling 16th-century idol walk into cop trap
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Six-selling-16th-century-idol-walk-into-cop-trap/articleshow/5989922.cms

Vineet Gill, TNN, May 30, 2010, 04.04am IST

NEW DELHI: The special staff of central district police on Friday arrested six people who were allegedly trying to sell a 16-century idol. Officials of Archaelogical Survey of India said the idol of Lord Adinath dating back to 1559 would have fetched more than Rs 10 crore in the international market.

The police said that after receiving a tip-off, a team was formed under captain Satbir of special staff and a decision was taken to send a decoy customer to the accused. ‘‘A meeting with the accused was fixed for Friday afternoon at DDU Marg, near the government school. Around 3:15pm, two persons came there and the deal was finalized. The two then called accomplices who were carrying the idol. As soon as the four others came in a Maruti Swift car, we arrested them and seized the idol,’’ said Jaspal Singh, DCP (central district).

‘‘During the interrogation, the six men disclosed they had taken this idol from two of their acquaintances, John and Arif. They were reportedly told that the idol was stolen from a Jain temple in Rajasthan,’’ said Singh.

Police said the accused were looking for buyers over the internet, and had made attempts to sell the idol to one of the museums in London. ‘‘A case has been registered against the six at the Kamla Market police station and the idol has been preserved,’’ said Singh.

May 31st, 2010

Posted In: recovery

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May 31st, 2010

Posted In: diefstal uit kerken, religieuze voorwerpen

Thieves with Cavalier attitude
http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/thieves-with-cavalier-attitude-20100529-wmfx.html

ANDREW TAYLOR

May 30, 2010
IT IS the million-dollar theft that has everyone stumped.

Three years after A Cavalier, a 17th-century Dutch masterpiece insured for $1.4 million, was stolen from the Art Gallery of NSW, hopes of recovering it have gone, even though it is listed on the FBI’s top 10 list of art crimes.

”I have to say that I would be surprised if the picture turns up,” said Edmund Capon, the gallery’s director. ”It’s a very unfortunate thing.”

Detective Senior Constable Jeroen Huisman said NSW police had no leads or did not know if the self-portrait by Frans van Mieris – which measures just 20 x 16 centimetres – was still in Australia.

”It would most definitely be difficult to sell to a legitimate collector/buyer as it is currently still on international wanted lists including Interpol and the FBI,” Constable Huisman said.

Director of the international Art Loss Register Julian Radcliffe said criminal gangs stole art from galleries to use as collateral in drugs and arms deals. Eventually, perhaps years later, they would try to put it back on the market.

The lone masked intruder who stole five paintings worth $120 million from the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris two weeks ago may have been working on behalf of overseas criminal gangs from the Balkans or the Russian mafia.

In contrast, the Australian Cultural Terrorists stole Picasso’s Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria in 1986 as a protest. Police recovered it from a locker at Spencer Street railway station a few days later, but the thieves were never caught.

The Australian Institute of Criminology estimated that $20 million worth of art is stolen in Australia each year, while the FBI estimates art worth more than $9 billion is stolen globally. ”Art is stolen because it is valuable, portable, and not well protected compared to a bank vault full of cash,” Mr Radcliffe said.

The Art Loss Register lists Picasso as the most stolen artist followed by Karel Appel, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali.

Like the paintings stolen from the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris, A Cavalier was vulnerable to thieves because of poor security. It was screwed to the wall by just two keyhole plates that were visible and accessible in a room with no camera surveillance and a guard only occasionally present.

Mr Capon said the NSW government had ignored the gallery’s pleas for more money to guard against theft.

”We were very conscious of the fact we were understaffed and had no technology in terms of security and yet we had all these priceless paintings,” he said. ”That situation has been rectified but it should have been rectified without having to pay that price.”

Criminologist Professor Kenneth Polk said the probability of finding art stolen in Australia was ”very low because we have no loss register to serve as our memory”.

The Art Loss Register points to two works by Cezanne and Manet, stolen in the late 1970s, which were recovered two decades later. Incredibly, Picasso’s Woman in White Reading a Book was found in 2005, 65 years after it was stolen.

Earlier this month, the $200,000 Girl in Sunlight by Rupert Bunny, which had been stolen from a house on the Mornington Peninsula in 1991, was found in a Melbourne home.

The Art Loss Register says 45 per cent of art thefts were from private premises last year, compared with 15 per cent from galleries and museums.

May 30th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

(update 6 juli 2010) Erfgoedklucht: Ikonenmuseum Kampen, Erfgoedinspectie Den Haag, inertie erfgoedinspecteur, dreigementen vanuit het Ministerie van OCW

www.museumbeveiliging.com/2010/05/28/erfgoedklucht-ikonenmuseum-kampen-erfgoedinspectie-den-haag-inertie-erfgoedinspecteur-dreigementen-vanuit-het-ministerie/

28/05/2010 – 08:20

– Citaat –

Dat betekent dat je alles moet doen wat redelijkerwijs kan worden verwacht op het gebied van controle van de herkomstgegevens van een voorwerp of verzameling.
Dit is wel wat werk voor de toekomstige eigenaren van cultuurgoederen. Je moet bijvoorbeeld rekening houden met de omstandigheden van de verwerving. Denk aan een betaalde prijs en raadpleging van registers voor (gestolen) cultuurgoederen
“.

– einde citaat –

Update 6 juli 2010:

Boeiende nieuwe informatie.

Op 25 februari werd bij de politie Den Haag door ‘een’ erfgoedinspecteur aangifte tegen mij gedaan wegens belediging, smaad en laster. Het is nogal wat. Geen van mijn teksten rechtvaardigt volgens mij deze aangifte. Inhoudelijk ga ik op deze zaak (nog) niet in.

Op 10 april 2010 – zes weken nadat de erfgoedinspecteur aangifte deed – werd ik gebeld door een medewerker van OCW. Over de inhoud van dat bizarre gesprek rapporteerde ik eerder (zie hieronder). Toen ik gebeld werd was het niet meer mogelijk de aangifte in te trekken. Men moet dat bij de Erfgoedinspectie geweten hebben. Hoe moet ik interpreteren dat ik NOOIT enige reactie kreeg van de Erfgoedinspectie/inspecteur op mijn e-mails en op alle door mij geschreven en aan de inspectie/inspecteur gestuurde artikelen en dat men mij pas liet bellen zes weken nadat aangifte werd gedaan?

Mag ik even interpreteren/fantaseren? De inspectie zal zich ongetwijfeld hebben laten adviseren door een van de vele juristen op het ministerie. Ik kan mij niet voorstellen dat door een inspecteur aangifte tegen een ‘burger’  wordt gedaan zonder ruggespraak met een jurist. Waarschijnlijk heeft iemand nadat aangifte werd gedaan een, te laat, helder moment gehad en de vraag gesteld: “Is er ooit gereageerd op Cremers’ mails en zijn teksten?” Oeps, dat was nooit gebeurd. Voor het doen van aangifte was contact met Cremers niet verplicht, maar het ware veel zorgvuldiger geweest. Deze onzorgvuldigheid zou indien dit een zaak wordt voor de rechter weleens een heel slordige indruk kunnen maken. Wat te doen? Ik zie het opgewonden en bezorgde gesprek al voor mij. De oplossing werd gevonden: Van Kouterik kende Cremers nog uit zijn Rijksmuseumtijd en zou Cremers wel even bellen met het verzoek zijn berichtgeving op het Internet te kuisen van de naam van de erfgoedinspecteur. Niemand kon voorzien dat het nutteloze want slechts formele telefoongesprek grondig verknoeid werd door de beller die eerst het afgesproken verzoek indiende, toen dreigde met aangifte en daarna mededeelde dat al aangifte gedaan was. Kon het nog onhandiger? Nee, dat kon niet.

Na dat telefoontje stuurde ik meerdere e-mails naar de Erfgoedinspectie met het verzoek om uitleg. Nooit ontving ik antwoord.

Wordt ongetwijfeld vervolgd.

Ton Cremers

Update 28 mei 2010:

Het zal niet verbazen dat Barbara Siregar, directeur van de Erfgoedinspectie, mijn mail van 6 mei onbeantwoord liet. Dat is beleid bij de Erfgoedinspectie: berichten worden niet beantwoord. Dan vanmorgen maar gebeld met het nummer waar vandaan ik op 10 april benaderd werd met dreigementen over aangifte: 070-4122749. Achter dat nummer zit een beveiliger van het ministerie, Van kouterik, die mij namens erfgoedinspecteur Marja van Heese belde destijds. Blijkbaar gaat deze Van kouterik gebukt onder een selectief falend geheugen. Hij kon zich het gesprek van 10 april nog perfect herinneren maar wist niet meer de aard van de aangifte omdat hij ‘de stukken’ niet op zijn bureau had. Hoeveel aangiftes doet die man? Het moeten er heel veel zijn..
Wel wilde hij van mij weten of de politie al contact met mij opgenomen heeft. Dus volgens Van kouterik is er wel degelijk sprake van een aangifte tegen mij. Sneu dat de man zich in de veelheid van aangiftes niet kan herinneren wat het strafbare feit dan is. Het blijft een klucht, maar wel een heel kwalijke klucht: de Erfgoedinspectie probeert mijn nieuwsgaring namelijk te frustreren via (dreigementen over) een aangifte en weigert in te gaan op verzoeken om toelichting.

Ton Cremers

Update 7 mei 2010:

Oorspronkelijke bericht dateert van 10 april 2010 (zie hieronder) en is gezonden aan de Erfgoedinspectie en wel aan Marja van Heese. Zoals te verwachten bleef enige reactie uit. Gisteren, 6 mei 2010, heb ik een bericht gestuurd aan Barbara Siregar, directeur van de Erfgoedinspectie, waarin ik mijn beklag deed over dreigementen door een medewerker van het Ministerie van OCW namens erfgoedinspecteur Marja van Heese. Ik heb mevrouw Siregar gevraagd mij uiterlijk 14 mei te laten weten wat de status van het dreigement en van de ‘aangifte’ is. Mocht ik op genoemde datum geen reactie ontvangen hebben, dan zal ik een klacht indienen bij de minister. Het is niet acceptabel dat verslaglegging over een ernstige kwestie leidt tot dreigementen door een ambtenaar die met die dreigementen tracht de vrijheid van meningsuiting te beperken.

Ton Cremers

Bericht van 10 april 2010:

Het is een paar jaar geleden dat ik bij de Erfgoedinspectie meldde ernstige zorgen te hebben over de aankoopethiek van de oprichter van het Ikonenmuseum in Kampen. De betreffende erfgoedinspecteur, Marja van Heese, reageerde nauwelijks op die melding en kwam pas in actie toen ik anderhalf jaar later de publiciteit zocht. Tijdens een gesprek met de Erfgoedinspectie najaar 2009 werd mij medegedeeld dat de fouten gemaakt rondom mijn melding voor de inspectie aanleiding waren een meldingsprocedure te ontwikkelen. Die procedure had er natuurlijk al jaren moeten zijn. De trouwe lezers van de http://www.museumbeveiliging.com website en van de Museum Security Network en Museumbeveiliging Google groepen zullen het verhaal kennen. Ik heb er na zo veel tijd en energie geen zin meer in de hele geschiedenis te herhalen. Geïnteresseerden kunnen via een Google zoekopdracht alle informatie op het web vinden.

Voor mij was deze zaak geschiedenis totdat ik vanmorgen een bizar telefoontje kreeg van iemand die zich meldde als medewerker van het ‘Ministerie van Onderwijs’ (070-4122749).
In dat telefoontje werd mij verzocht mijn WWW archief te censureren en de naam van erfgoedinspecteur Marja van Heese te verwijderen. Een dergelijke vraag bereikte mij nooit eerder, in ieder geval niet van de betreffende inspecteur. Ik geef toe dat ik op dit heel onverwachte verzoek afwijzend reageerde, temeer daar Van Heese een achttal e-mails van mij aan haar in de loop van vorig jaar onbeantwoord liet. Tamelijk nalatig voor een ambtenaar die beroepsmatig door een ‘burger’  benaderd wordt.

In reactie op mijn weigering van vanmorgen kreeg ik van de beller te horen dat er inmiddels aangifte tegen mij gedaan was. Aangifte? Aangifte? Wat is het strafbare feit vraag ik mij af. Ik zie dat wel wanneer die aangifte mij bereikt. Ik zal hem dan meteen delen met de bezoekers van mijn site en de abonnees van de mailing list.

Behalve de vraag naar het strafbare feit is er een andere vraag die mij nog veel meer boeit. Men (Van Heese? De Erfgoedinspectie? Het Ministerie?) doet eerst aangifte en daarna word ik gebeld met het vriendelijke verzoek de naam van Marja van Heese te verwijderen uit mijn berichtgeving. Wat een vreemde volgorde. Deze door het ministerie gehanteerde handelwijze komt mij even amateuristisch voor als de wijze waarop de Erfgoedinspectie – onderdeel van datzelfde ministerie – destijds omging met mijn zeer ernstige en door een getuige gestaafde melding.

In deze tijd van dreigende bezuinigingen dringt zich een voor de hand liggende bezuinigingsoptie op….

Ton Cremers

May 28th, 2010

Posted In: Geen categorie

Tags: , ,

– Citaat –

Dat betekent dat je alles moet doen wat redelijkerwijs kan worden verwacht op het gebied van controle van de herkomstgegevens van een voorwerp of verzameling.
Dit is wel wat werk voor de toekomstige eigenaren van cultuurgoederen. Je moet bijvoorbeeld rekening houden met de omstandigheden van de verwerving. Denk aan een betaalde prijs en raadpleging van registers voor (gestolen) cultuurgoederen
“.

– einde citaat –

Update 6 juli 2010:

Boeiende nieuwe informatie.

Op 25 februari werd bij de politie Den Haag door ‘een’ erfgoedinspecteur aangifte tegen mij gedaan wegens belediging, smaad en laster. Het is nogal wat. Geen van mijn teksten rechtvaardigt volgens mij deze aangifte. Inhoudelijk ga ik op deze zaak (nog) niet in.

Op 10 april 2010 – zes weken nadat de erfgoedinspecteur aangifte deed – werd ik gebeld door een medewerker van OCW. Over de inhoud van dat bizarre gesprek rapporteerde ik eerder (zie hieronder). Toen ik gebeld werd was het niet meer mogelijk de aangifte in te trekken. Men moet dat bij de Erfgoedinspectie geweten hebben. Hoe moet ik interpreteren dat ik NOOIT enige reactie kreeg van de Erfgoedinspectie/inspecteur op mijn e-mails en op alle door mij geschreven en aan de inspectie/inspecteur gestuurde artikelen en dat men mij pas liet bellen zes weken nadat aangifte werd gedaan?

Mag ik even interpreteren/fantaseren? De inspectie zal zich ongetwijfeld hebben laten adviseren door een van de vele juristen op het ministerie. Ik kan mij niet voorstellen dat door een inspecteur aangifte tegen een ‘burger’  wordt gedaan zonder ruggespraak met een jurist. Waarschijnlijk heeft iemand nadat aangifte werd gedaan een, te laat, helder moment gehad en de vraag gesteld: “Is er ooit gereageerd op Cremers’ mails en zijn teksten?” Oeps, dat was nooit gebeurd. Voor het doen van aangifte was contact met Cremers niet verplicht, maar het ware veel zorgvuldiger geweest. Deze onzorgvuldigheid zou indien dit een zaak wordt voor de rechter weleens een heel slordige indruk kunnen maken. Wat te doen? Ik zie het opgewonden en bezorgde gesprek al voor mij. De oplossing werd gevonden: Van Kouterik kende Cremers nog uit zijn Rijksmuseumtijd en zou Cremers wel even bellen met het verzoek zijn berichtgeving op het Internet te kuisen van de naam van de erfgoedinspecteur. Niemand kon voorzien dat het nutteloze want slechts formele telefoongesprek grondig verknoeid werd door de beller die eerst het afgesproken verzoek indiende, toen dreigde met aangifte en daarna mededeelde dat al aangifte gedaan was. Kon het nog onhandiger? Nee, dat kon niet.

Na dat telefoontje stuurde ik meerdere e-mails naar de Erfgoedinspectie met het verzoek om uitleg. Nooit ontving ik antwoord.

Wordt ongetwijfeld vervolgd.

Ton Cremers

Update 28 mei 2010:

Het zal niet verbazen dat Barbara Siregar, directeur van de Erfgoedinspectie, mijn mail van 6 mei onbeantwoord liet. Dat is beleid bij de Erfgoedinspectie: berichten worden niet beantwoord. Dan vanmorgen maar gebeld met het nummer waar vandaan ik op 10 april benaderd werd met dreigementen over aangifte: 070-4122749. Achter dat nummer zit een beveiliger van het ministerie, Van kouterik, die mij namens erfgoedinspecteur Marja van Heese belde destijds. Blijkbaar gaat deze Van kouterik gebukt onder een selectief falend geheugen. Hij kon zich het gesprek van 10 april nog perfect herinneren maar wist niet meer de aard van de aangifte omdat hij ‘de stukken’ niet op zijn bureau had. Hoeveel aangiftes doet die man? Het moeten er heel veel zijn..
Wel wilde hij van mij weten of de politie al contact met mij opgenomen heeft. Dus volgens Van kouterik is er wel degelijk sprake van een aangifte tegen mij. Sneu dat de man zich in de veelheid van aangiftes niet kan herinneren wat het strafbare feit dan is. Het blijft een klucht, maar wel een heel kwalijke klucht: de Erfgoedinspectie probeert mijn nieuwsgaring namelijk te frustreren via (dreigementen over) een aangifte en weigert in te gaan op verzoeken om toelichting.

Ton Cremers

Update 7 mei 2010:

Oorspronkelijke bericht dateert van 10 april 2010 (zie hieronder) en is gezonden aan de Erfgoedinspectie en wel aan Marja van Heese. Zoals te verwachten bleef enige reactie uit. Gisteren, 6 mei 2010, heb ik een bericht gestuurd aan Barbara Siregar, directeur van de Erfgoedinspectie, waarin ik mijn beklag deed over dreigementen door een medewerker van het Ministerie van OCW namens erfgoedinspecteur Marja van Heese. Ik heb mevrouw Siregar gevraagd mij uiterlijk 14 mei te laten weten wat de status van het dreigement en van de ‘aangifte’ is. Mocht ik op genoemde datum geen reactie ontvangen hebben, dan zal ik een klacht indienen bij de minister. Het is niet acceptabel dat verslaglegging over een ernstige kwestie leidt tot dreigementen door een ambtenaar die met die dreigementen tracht de vrijheid van meningsuiting te beperken.

Ton Cremers

Bericht van 10 april 2010:

Het is een paar jaar geleden dat ik bij de Erfgoedinspectie meldde ernstige zorgen te hebben over de aankoopethiek van de oprichter van het Ikonenmuseum in Kampen. De betreffende erfgoedinspecteur, Marja van Heese, reageerde nauwelijks op die melding en kwam pas in actie toen ik anderhalf jaar later de publiciteit zocht. Tijdens een gesprek met de Erfgoedinspectie najaar 2009 werd mij medegedeeld dat de fouten gemaakt rondom mijn melding voor de inspectie aanleiding waren een meldingsprocedure te ontwikkelen. Die procedure had er natuurlijk al jaren moeten zijn. De trouwe lezers van de http://www.museumbeveiliging.com website en van de Museum Security Network en Museumbeveiliging Google groepen zullen het verhaal kennen. Ik heb er na zo veel tijd en energie geen zin meer in de hele geschiedenis te herhalen. Geïnteresseerden kunnen via een Google zoekopdracht alle informatie op het web vinden.

Voor mij was deze zaak geschiedenis totdat ik vanmorgen een bizar telefoontje kreeg van iemand die zich meldde als medewerker van het ‘Ministerie van Onderwijs’ (070-4122749).
In dat telefoontje werd mij verzocht mijn WWW archief te censureren en de naam van erfgoedinspecteur Marja van Heese te verwijderen. Een dergelijke vraag bereikte mij nooit eerder, in ieder geval niet van de betreffende inspecteur. Ik geef toe dat ik op dit heel onverwachte verzoek afwijzend reageerde, temeer daar Van Heese een achttal e-mails van mij aan haar in de loop van vorig jaar onbeantwoord liet. Tamelijk nalatig voor een ambtenaar die beroepsmatig door een ‘burger’  benaderd wordt.

In reactie op mijn weigering van vanmorgen kreeg ik van de beller te horen dat er inmiddels aangifte tegen mij gedaan was. Aangifte? Aangifte? Wat is het strafbare feit vraag ik mij af. Ik zie dat wel wanneer die aangifte mij bereikt. Ik zal hem dan meteen delen met de bezoekers van mijn site en de abonnees van de mailing list.

Behalve de vraag naar het strafbare feit is er een andere vraag die mij nog veel meer boeit. Men (Van Heese? De Erfgoedinspectie? Het Ministerie?) doet eerst aangifte en daarna word ik gebeld met het vriendelijke verzoek de naam van Marja van Heese te verwijderen uit mijn berichtgeving. Wat een vreemde volgorde. Deze door het ministerie gehanteerde handelwijze komt mij even amateuristisch voor als de wijze waarop de Erfgoedinspectie – onderdeel van datzelfde ministerie – destijds omging met mijn zeer ernstige en door een getuige gestaafde melding.

In deze tijd van dreigende bezuinigingen dringt zich een voor de hand liggende bezuinigingsoptie op….

Ton Cremers

May 28th, 2010

Posted In: Alexander Stichting Kampen, commentaar, conventies, Cyprus, Erfgoedinspectie, Ikonen Museum Kampen, illegale handel

Tags: , , , , , ,

Iraq Says Antiquities Ring Busted
http://www.rferl.org/content/Iraq_Says_Antiquities_Ring_Busted/2053617.html

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki inspects antiquities during the reopening ceremony of Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad last year.

May 26, 2010
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Anticorruption Commission says it has busted a ring of antiquities thieves and seized stolen artifacts in an undercover operation, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq reports.

Anticorruption Commission Chairman Judge Abd al-Rahim al-Ugaily told RFE/RL that a four-member gang engaged in illicit trafficking in valuable artifacts was caught red-handed in a sting operation carried out by a commission task force specially trained to track down archeological grave robbers and smugglers. He said the whole action was videotaped.

Ugaily added that 10 ancient gold coins and two paintings were seized in the operation in Baghdad. He added that an investigation to determine the origins of the recovered items is still at the preliminary stage.

The judge said the Anticorruption Commission was actively pursuing artifact thieves and looters, as it regards Iraq’s historical sites and cultural heritage national property that should be protected in the same way as public funds.

Abd al-Zahra Talaqani, a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told RFE/RL that the Anticorruption Commission was making an effective contribution to safeguarding Iraq’s priceless treasures.

He pointed out that in 2007 alone, the commission returned 210 artifacts to the National Museum.

Talaqani said that the Iraqi National Museum lost some 15,500 artifacts and antiquities when it was vandalized after the collapse of law and order in the wake of the April 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Approximately one-third of them have been returned so far, thanks to national and international efforts.

May 27th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Stolen paintings give a “unique” picture of Salisbury life
http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/8185600.Stolen_paintings_give_a__unique__picture_of_Salisbury_life/

10:30am Wednesday 26th May 2010

PAINTINGS worth about £3,500 have been stolen from the old cell area of Salisbury Guildhall.

The six watercolour paintings by Edwin Young were taken between the end of March and April 14.

The paintings were on loan to Salisbury City Council at the Guildhall and show various scenes of Salisbury, including the cathedral, the High Street Gate and the South Gate of The Close and Crane Bridge.

Also included were two paintings of the Old Swan Inn at Harnham.

Edwin Young was a Victorian philanthropist who lived and worked in Salisbury. On his death in 1913 he gave to the city funds to build an art gallery, an endowment for maintenance, his personal collection of art work and his own paintings, watercolours and drawings.

His art has been described as providing a unique window on rural and town life in the Victorian and Edwardian world.

Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Ellerby at Salisbury Police Station on 0845 4087000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

May 27th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Stolen paintings give a “unique” picture of Salisbury life
http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/8185600.Stolen_paintings_give_a__unique__picture_of_Salisbury_life/

10:30am Wednesday 26th May 2010

PAINTINGS worth about £3,500 have been stolen from the old cell area of Salisbury Guildhall.

The six watercolour paintings by Edwin Young were taken between the end of March and April 14.

The paintings were on loan to Salisbury City Council at the Guildhall and show various scenes of Salisbury, including the cathedral, the High Street Gate and the South Gate of The Close and Crane Bridge.

Also included were two paintings of the Old Swan Inn at Harnham.

Edwin Young was a Victorian philanthropist who lived and worked in Salisbury. On his death in 1913 he gave to the city funds to build an art gallery, an endowment for maintenance, his personal collection of art work and his own paintings, watercolours and drawings.

His art has been described as providing a unique window on rural and town life in the Victorian and Edwardian world.

Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Ellerby at Salisbury Police Station on 0845 4087000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

May 27th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Vermont, R.I. sculpture thefts might be linked
http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20100526/NEWS02/5260376/1003/NEWS02

By PATRICK McARDLE STAFF WRITER – Published: May 26, 2010

DORSET — A second edition of a Rhode Island artist’s bronze sculpture of a woman is missing from a local home and is believed to have been taken around the same time as an edition was taken from outside a Rhode Island arts center in March.

State Trooper Timothy Newton is investigating the disappearance of the sculpture, “Embrace of Life II,” from outside a home on Danby Mountain Road.

Another copy of the sculpture was taken from outside the Four Corners Arts Center in Tiverton, R.I., in early March.

According to the website of Narragansett, R.I., artist Mimi Sammis, there are five copies of the sculpture, which was created in 1999.

Newton said Tuesday that police have no reason to believe that thieves are targeting that particular sculpture although he added that “anything’s possible.”

Owner Sheila Frantz reported the disappearance of the Dorset sculpture to police on Monday.

Newton said there were some challenges in the investigation. Because Frantz isn’t a full-time resident, she could only narrow down when the sculpture went missing to sometime in March or April.

The sculpture, which Sammis sells for $30,000, was outside but not visible from the road so Newton said police are trying to establish who might have known it was there.

A connection between the thefts in Rhode Island and Vermont seems unlikely. The site of the Tiverton theft is more than 200 miles southeast from Dorset.

The Herald News of Fall River, Mass., reported that police arrested two men who they believed stole the 300-pound sculpture a few days after it was reported missing.

The two men, James MacNaught, 31, of Tiverton, and Robert Coelho, 29, of Fall River, were arrested and charged with felony counts of receiving stolen property and conspiracy after police received a tip from a neighbor of MacNaught, who told police MacNaught was seen cutting apart the statue.

Police said they believed the men planned to cut up the statue and sell it for scrap metal.

At the time, police were hopeful they might recover the pieces and Sammis said she believed she might be able to weld the pieces back together.

May 27th, 2010

Posted In: sculpture theft

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May 27th, 2010

Posted In: cultural security

Historic Monmouth statue’s staff stolen
http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/8183572.Historic_Monmouth_statue___s_staff_stolen/

12:30pm Tuesday 25th May 2010

A 218 year-old staff was stolen from the hand of one of Monmouth’s historical monuments.

The military staff, known locally as Henry’s scroll, is part of the statue of Henry V which was erected at the front of the Shire Hall in 1792, and was stolen last week.

Conservation work to the statue was being carried out as part of a £5 million renovation project at the Shire Hall that includes conserving the half a metre-long military staff by applying new gold leaf.

The scroll is not fixed to the hand of the statue, but project manager for the scheme, Keith Davies believes whoever took it climbed over the tall timber hoardings that surround the site and climbed up the scaffold, erected to reach the statue.

“There isn’t a re-sale value as it is just gold leaf on an oak baton but there is obvious historical value as we believe it is original to the statue which was erected in 1792,” explained Mr Davies principal estates surveyor for Monmouthshire council.

“We think someone may have thought it had a re-sale value and that when they realised it was made of oak, have dumped it somewhere and are hoping someone comes across it,” he added.

The staff is thought to have been stolen from the site between Friday 14 May and Sunday 16 May.

Mr Davies is appealing for anyone with information to contact Gwent Police on 01633 838111 or the Monmouth One Stop Shop on 01600 775200.

May 26th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, sculpture theft

Vermont, R.I. sculpture thefts might be linked
http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20100526/NEWS02/5260376/1003/NEWS02

By PATRICK McARDLE STAFF WRITER – Published: May 26, 2010

DORSET — A second edition of a Rhode Island artist’s bronze sculpture of a woman is missing from a local home and is believed to have been taken around the same time as an edition was taken from outside a Rhode Island arts center in March.

State Trooper Timothy Newton is investigating the disappearance of the sculpture, “Embrace of Life II,” from outside a home on Danby Mountain Road.

Another copy of the sculpture was taken from outside the Four Corners Arts Center in Tiverton, R.I., in early March.

According to the website of Narragansett, R.I., artist Mimi Sammis, there are five copies of the sculpture, which was created in 1999.

Newton said Tuesday that police have no reason to believe that thieves are targeting that particular sculpture although he added that “anything’s possible.”

Owner Sheila Frantz reported the disappearance of the Dorset sculpture to police on Monday.

Newton said there were some challenges in the investigation. Because Frantz isn’t a full-time resident, she could only narrow down when the sculpture went missing to sometime in March or April.

The sculpture, which Sammis sells for $30,000, was outside but not visible from the road so Newton said police are trying to establish who might have known it was there.

A connection between the thefts in Rhode Island and Vermont seems unlikely. The site of the Tiverton theft is more than 200 miles southeast from Dorset.

The Herald News of Fall River, Mass., reported that police arrested two men who they believed stole the 300-pound sculpture a few days after it was reported missing.

The two men, James MacNaught, 31, of Tiverton, and Robert Coelho, 29, of Fall River, were arrested and charged with felony counts of receiving stolen property and conspiracy after police received a tip from a neighbor of MacNaught, who told police MacNaught was seen cutting apart the statue.

Police said they believed the men planned to cut up the statue and sell it for scrap metal.

At the time, police were hopeful they might recover the pieces and Sammis said she believed she might be able to weld the pieces back together.

But Herald News reporter Derek Vital said Tuesday he didn’t believe the pieces had been recovered.

While those responsible for the disappearance of the Dorset sculpture may not have been involved in the theft in Rhode Island, that doesn’t mean they may not have struck again in the local area.

State Police have also been investigating the disappearance of a large African sculpture from outside a Peace Road home in Dorset. That sculpture went missing on April 29.

Sammis said on Tuesday that “Embrace of Love II” had a lot of meaning to her and one edition of the sculpture had been displayed at the United Nations.

However, Sammis said she believed that if the sculpture in Dorset was stolen, it was probably only for the bronze of which it was made and not because of the sculpture’s artistic value. She said she believed that’s what happened in Rhode Island.

“It’s awful that someone would just hack it up into pieces. But I always try to be positive and I thought what good could come out of this and I thought, ‘Well, maybe these two guys (MacNaught and Coelho) will get some help and get over their addiction.’ I also thought, I’ll get to create a new sculpture,” she said.

Sammis said she sold Frantz the piece when Frantz was living in Greenwich, Conn., but she wasn’t sure of the year.

The Peace Road sculpture was in the shona style and created in Zimbabwe. The 5-feet-tall by 3-feet-wide sculpture, which weighs about 150 to 200 pounds, is titled, “U-KAMA” and depicts a family in a circle with outstretched arms.

“It’s too much of a coincidence to overlook the possibility they could be connected,” said Lt. Reg Trayah, station commander of the Shaftsbury state police barracks.

Trayah said officers had spoken with a company that oversees the sales of art pieces. According to Trayah, art dealers contact the company when someone wants to sell a piece of art so the dealer knows if the piece has been reported as stolen. The company’s staff will also monitor sales so they can alert police if a piece that has been reported stolen has been sold.

Anyone with information about the disappearance of either sculpture in Dorset is asked to call the Vermont State Police at the Shaftsbury barracks at 442-5421.

patrick.mcardle@rutlandherald.com

May 26th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, sculpture theft

ttp://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/7546.aspx

Ramsbury Manor loot –
the hunt goes on 25 May 2010 Despite recent developments in the case against the notorious Johnson family, including the recovery of stolen antiques in Worcestershire, innumerable valuable works of art remain at large.

Contrary to reports in the national press, many of the 300-plus items stolen from Ramsbury Manor in February 2006 – including a superb collection of English clocks and silver – are still missing. Particulars of many of these items can be viewed by clicking through to this Ramsbury Manor link

There have been two significant breakthroughs in the recovery of treasures stolen from Ramsbury Manor, Wiltshire, the 17th century home of property tycoon and discerning collector Harry Hyams.

Some of the items, representing approximately one tenth of the value of the total theft, were found secreted in an underground bunker on the outskirts of Stratford-upon-Avon some months after the raid. More recently, as part of a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act of 2003, 34-year-old Danny O’Loughlin, the ring leader of the Johnson gang, convicted for multiple raids on stately homes in the South of England in January 2008, had arranged for stolen items valued at £643,000 to be returned while he was behind bars.

In a bid to persuade the judge to be lenient on him, he assisted in the recovery of a total of 93 pieces, some from Ramsbury, which were recovered from the Cleeve Prior Travellers’ Site, where all five members of the gang lived.

During the hearing at Reading Crown Court last month, Judge Christopher Critchlow expressed his belief that the Johnson family still had knowledge of the whereabouts of more booty, although he conceded that other Ramsbury treasures, such as an early Tompion bracket clock c.1675 (for which the court was given a value of £240,000) and a silver-mounted ebony barometer by Daniel Delander (£650,000), were now lost to the black market. A total of 16 clocks and barometers are still missing, while none of the elements of a large and superb collection of English silver have surfaced. An oil by the Dutch artist Hendrick Avercamp and a quantity of English and Continental 18th century porcelain are also among the easily identifiable items that remain at large.

The raid took place in February 2006 when members of the Johnson family negotiated sophisticated security systems to break in through a ground-floor window.

For the purposes of the court, independent experts put the value of the items taken from Ramsbury at £23m, making it the most valuable domestic burglary ever committed in the UK. The gang said they made only £15,200 each from the raid after accepting just £76,000 for much of the cache from a ‘fence’. Some pieces represent relatively recent acquisitions, but others had been acquired as long ago as the 1960s when Mr Hyams, a self-made millionaire by his 20s, first began to buy outstanding antiques.

Roland Arkell

May 26th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Sculpture stolen in home burglary
http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/article_c1f20548-67c4-11df-973a-001cc4c002e0.html

Gazette-Times | Posted: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 1:00 am | 1 Comment

Have you seen ‘Exaltation?’ The sculpture was stolen sometime Sunday. Call the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at 541-766-6858. (Contributed photo)

A sculpture worth about $20,000 was stolen Sunday in a residential burglary and investigators hope someone will come forward with its whereabouts.

According to information from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, the sculpture, along with two flat-screen TVs, a Nintendo gaming system and several video games, were taken from a house on Avalon Drive north of Corvallis on Sunday.

The homeowner, Rich Carone, left the residence Sunday morning and discovered the items missing when he returned about 3:30 p.m. His daughter had reportedly left the front door unlocked when she left the house a few hours earlier.

The sculpture, which is called “Exaltation,” was purchased for $7,000 about 12 years ago. The artist,  Frederick Hart, is known for the “Three Soldiers” sculpture at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., among others.

Hart died in  1999. “Exaltation,” which is made of  acrylic lucite, is now estimated to be worth $18,000-22,000.

The dimensions are approximately 23” X 13” X 13.

Neighbors told deputies they did not see any suspicious persons or vehicles in the area.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at 541-766-6858.

May 26th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, sculpture theft

Heist-proof museums? U.S. buildings aided by design, location
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/24/AR2010052403626_pf.html
By Jacqueline Trescott and Dan Zak
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 25, 2010; C01

Last week’s $123 million heist of cubist and post-impressionist works at the Paris Museum of Modern Art continues a rash of painting pilferage in Europe over the past decade, with sensational headlines vaulting across the Atlantic. Van Goghs vanish in Amsterdam in 2002! “The Scream” swiped in Oslo in ’04! Picassos purloined in Paris in ’07 and ’09!

Art crime is at least a $6 billion global business. So, at the risk of tempting fate, one wonders: Why not here?

Why doesn’t thievery of this magnitude occur as often in the United States? Why has there never been a mega-heist in Washington, a city awash in priceless artifacts, the seat of the illustrious Smithsonian Institution and home to a dozen national art collections and a hundred museums and galleries?

The answer may be that U.S. museums are newer, fewer and less exposed, and the District’s museums, while not impenetrable, are more imposing than their European counterparts. The capital is crawling with armed guards and far from an international border, says Robert K. Wittman, a retired special agent who founded the FBI’s National Art Crime Team.

“Let’s say you hit the National Gallery — you gonna escape to Baltimore?” Wittman says. “If you rob a museum in Philadelphia, where you gonna go — Camden? Countries in Europe are so close, and you have open borders and unarmed guards. If you look at heists in Europe after the year 2000, many have been armed robberies.”

Thursday’s theft was a simple burglary that exploited a fluky alarm system, a window with a single padlock and a deficiency in security-guard coverage. European museums tend to be located on cramped streets in converted houses that have accessible windows, plenty of corners and hidden spaces.

While museums and private collections in the United States regularly endure smaller-scale vandalism and theft, the last mega-heist on American soil was 20 years ago. Two men dressed as cops were allowed inside Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum just after midnight on March 18, 1990. They bound two guards with duct tape and spent a luxurious 81 minutes inside. They made off with $500 million worth of art, including masterpieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Manet, which have yet to be found. The perpetrators likely had ties to organized crime, according to Ulrich Boser, author of “The Gardner Heist,” who says most art thieves are common crooks — the class of criminal who would probably be flummoxed by Washington’s high-profile museums, which are fortresslike and ringed by bollards.

The steps around the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are considered visual deterrents, as are the cement planters and fountains. The National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery are underground. The Renwick, near Blair House, is in the zone of Secret Service sharpshooters. The National Museum of Women in the Arts just installed cameras in its galleries and on its roof, and the footage is piped directly to guards’ laptops.

The layers of police presence create an aura of immunity, said Judy A. Greenberg, director of the Kreeger Museum, which has experienced zero thefts in its 16 years.

“Everybody in Washington is so aware of security,” Greenberg says. “We have so many ambassadors as neighbors, with their own security, in addition to our own security.”

Sometimes that’s not good enough. The Art Loss Register, a recovery operation and private international database for stolen art, receives requests from Washington museums, galleries and private collectors every few months, according to its general counsel and executive director, Christopher A. Marinello.

“Washington does get their share of art heists — you just don’t hear about them,” Marinello says. “Just last year I dealt with an art gallery in Washington that had a Chagall that was stolen [worth about $45,000]. There was also a Picasso drawing taken [and then sold for $58,000]. We resolved it amicably and quietly and you didn’t hear about it. . . . I easily could say 75 percent of the cases that we handle — especially the higher-end ones — get settled discreetly because you have lawyers crawling out of woodwork and the first words out of their mouths are: ‘This has to be confidential.’ ”

Marinello could not elaborate on specific cases.

Cracks in Washington’s armor showed up in a 2007 report by the Government Accountability Office, which found that the Smithsonian’s security force was understaffed, its directors were lacking information on key security measures, and the number of security officers had decreased as the institution’s square footage increased between 2003 and 2007. After the report, the Smithsonian hired about 40 guards and increased salaries to cultivate a more experienced security staff. By the end of this year, it plans to add 110 new security personnel.

Vandalism at the Smithsonian’s 18 open museums in the past decade has been minimal: Fossils have been snatched; water bottles were thrown at dinosaur exhibits; and visitors have spit on or kissed artworks.

“We feel very comfortable with our security,” says J.J. McLaughlin, director of the Office of Protection Services at the Smithsonian, who oversees a staff of 800. Because of federal funding and the size of its properties, the Smithsonian has a division that studies improvements, he says, “and looks at what has to be updated.”

The nature of exhibiting art creates a Catch-22 for museums, says Boser, “The Gardner Heist” author and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

“We’re seeing all these thefts because art values continue to skyrocket even as the economy is distressed, and because art isn’t as secured as it could be,” he explains. “To display art is to make it easier for thieves to steal the items. But museums can’t look like banks, where money is secured in a vault in a basement.”

When Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” was stolen in 2004, he says, Munch Museum directors put many works behind thick glass panels. The public complained that they couldn’t see the brushstrokes and started calling the Oslo museum “Fortress Munch.”

“The Scream” was recovered in a police operation in 2006. While some experts calculate that only 5 percent of stolen art is ever found, Robert Wittman said big-name, high-priced works — like the Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani stolen last week — are found 90 percent of the time, usually within a generation.

He believes the latest loot was taken by a loose-knit group of criminals based in the south of France who will attempt to either sell the paintings at the black-market rate of 5 or 10 percent of their worth, or trade them for drugs, or stash them away as bargaining chips should they be arrested on other charges.

“These paintings are worth nothing,” says Wittman, who asserts that anyone who could afford a black-market Picasso would simply buy one legitimately. “The reason a painting is worth anything is because of its provenance, the ability to transfer the title. When you don’t have that, they’re worthless. You can sell drugs and stolen cars and make money, but when it comes to masterpiece paintings — never.”

May 26th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, museum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                May 18, 2010

National Archives Office of the Inspector General Launches Facebook page

Archival Recovery Team Facebook page encourages public involvement

Washington, DC. . . The National Archives Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has launched an Archival Recovery Team Facebook page.  Through this new social media outreach, the OIG expands its effort to identify and recover alienated Federal holdings that belong in the collection of the National Archives.  The URL is http://www.facebook.com/archivalrecoveryteam

“Thousands of researchers each year have access to our nation’s priceless documentary heritage, using original records at National Archives facilities across the nation. This allows American citizens to see for themselves the workings of the Federal government and the accountability of Federal officials.  These priceless records must be protected and preserved,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero

This Facebook page urges the public to assist the OIG’s Archival Recovery Team in identifying and recovering missing Federal records. “Federal public records tell the story of the American experience. Our Facebook page features a number of missing items that are of significance in telling our great American story. We need the public’s help in locating and restoring these National Treasures to their rightful place,” said National Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfeld.

Each month the Archival Recovery Team Facebook page will feature an item (or related group of items) that is missing from the collection of the National Archives.  The May “Missing Item-of-the-Month” is the collection of 35 documents from the Wright Brothers Flying Machine patent file, last seen at the National Archives in 1979.

Background

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is an independent office within the National Archives that helps the Agency to more effectively and efficiently ensure ready access to essential evidence.  The OIG serves as an independent internal advocate for efficiency and effectiveness.

To contact the Office of the Inspector General, please call 301-837-3500 or 800-786-2551 (toll-free).

#    #    #

For PRESS information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (202) 357-5300.

10-97

May 26th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

http://www.observer.com/2010/digging-past?page=1

Digging Up the Past
By Michael H. Miller
May 25, 2010 | 3:17 p.m

In June 1964, a group of fishermen off the northern Adriatic coast pulled a dull gray mass, shaped like a man, covered in barnacles, out of the water. It was the statue now known as Victorious Youth, believed to be the work of Lysippus-Alexander the Great’s personal sculptor. The fishermen took the statue ashore and sold it, cheap. It changed hands many times after that, quietly, until 1977, when the J. Paul Getty Trust purchased it for a then-record sum of $4 million from a Munich art dealer. In February 2010, Italy won a lawsuit in Italian court against the Los Angeles museum, demanding the statue’s return. The Getty, appealing, has yet to comply, arguing it was a Greek statue found in international waters.

Victorious Youth is far from the only masterpiece in limbo-or in court. As million-dollar antiquities auctions (and a controversy surrounding them) kick off in in New York the week of June 6, never has the tension between collector, dealer and so-called “source” nation been higher. Late last week, Germany’s Foreign Minister formally spurned Egypt’s request for the return of the 3,000-year-old Bust of Nefertiti that sits in a Berlin Museum; three months ago Egypt hosted an international conference demanding the return of the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum, which has had it for 200 years. There are ongoing legal battles and new, or louder, claims from Turkey, China and Greece for the return of items. But Italy has been the most aggressive, successfully demanding the return of objects from both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty. (The Getty has returned 39 disputed objects to Italy since 2006, and isn’t finished, according to the museum’s general counsel, Stephen Clark.) Such disputes have pulled in collectors and chilled the climate for buying certain works, regardless of quality, dealers and auctioneers report. Now, three pricey ancient Greek items up for sale at Christie’s next month threaten to become a part of the messy, murky issues clouding the market.

Here’s the back story: In 1995, Swiss and Italian investigators raided the Geneva warehouse of art dealer Giacomo Medici. Inside, they found a treasure trove of ancient objects, part of a massive network of illegally trafficked artifacts that Italian prosecutors said was orchestrated by Mr. Medici. He was found guilty of trafficking by an Italian court in 2004 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The case is on appeal. The warehouse contained hundreds of in-situ photographs of the objects that established their illegal excavation, mostly from Italy but also from Egypt and Greece. Many of these objects eventually ended up on the international antiquities market and in the collections of such leading collectors as Metropolitan Museum of Art trustee Shelby White.

Some attorneys and self-appointed looting watchdogs claim that three items up for sale at Christie’s on June 10 are pictured in those Medici warehouse photographs. “There were a lot of them, so it’s no surprise they’d still be popping up in sales,” said Patty Gerstenblith, who practices art and cultural heritage law.

At issue are Lot 139, a marble torso of a youth, headless, legless, missing the right arm, holding a cockerel in his left hand, valued at $20,000 to $30,000; Lot 112, a Greek terra-cotta goddess, nearly nude with draped fabric barely covering her left side, head cocked with attitude, valued at $6,000 to $8,000; and Lot 104, a cylindrical bowl featuring the image of a nude, frowning Eros, which rests atop a black goat’s head with white horns, valued at $25,000 to $35,000. “As a matter of policy, we do not sell works that we have reason to believe are stolen,” a Christie’s spokeswoman said.
David Gill, an ancient history scholar from the University of Wales, has written on the three Christie’s lots on his blog, Looting Matters. They “resemble more than a little” polaroids of three objects that had been illegally sold out of the Medici warehouse before it was raided, he said. However, according to Christie’s, the auction house “strictly adheres to all applicable local and international laws with respect to cultural property and national patrimony of art.”

For players in the sale of antiquities, a key “safe” date is November 1970. That was when the UNESCO convention met to hammer out an international treaty meant to prevent the illegal import and export of cultural property. If an object’s provenance-that is, its history of import, export and ownership-cannot be traced back to November 1970, many people in the U.S. antiquities trade won’t deal with it. This is where any confusion regarding the three ancient Greek Christie’s lots comes from: a lack of detailed provenance. Lot 112 has the oldest history, with a provenance going back to 1984, but the Christie’s description merely reads: “Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s New York, July 1984,” indicating that it has been in this country for some years. The other two go back only to the early 1990s, and mention previous sales at Sotheby’s or Christie’s. (Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s have faced legal repercussions, lawsuits and claims regarding items on the block in the past, but the frequency of such claims has fallen sharply in the last decade.) But 1970 provenance is merely an ethical standard, not a legal one. Nonetheless, masterpieces, even at discounted prices, aren’t making their way to (public) market, because sellers and buyers are worried about lawsuits.

In 2008, Italy struck a deal with Ms. White for the return of 10 objects-ironically, some of them Greek-in Ms. White’s private collection, several of which Italian authorities said had been traced back to the Medici warehouse. Nine of the 10 have been returned, with the final repatriation scheduled to happen sometime this year. Ms. White could not be reached for comment.

At the Getty, even after years of negotiations, the repatriations aren’t over yet: One “very major work” (Cult Statue of a Goddess) will be returned by the Getty to Italy at the end of this year, said Mr. Clark.

Florent Heintz, head of the Sotheby’s antiquities department, talked about the significant research involved prior to the offering on June 11 of a second-century marble bust of Athena. Priced at $600,000 to $900,000, it’s one of the highlights of the upcoming sale at Sotheby’s. According to Mr. Heintz, the auction house was able to trace the provenance back to the early 1950s using photographs of past owners with the object, receipts from its restoration and invoices from when the statue was put into storage. Sometimes it’s not so simple, he added. People don’t always save such documents. “We basically have to take people’s word for it,” Mr. Heintz said. “We try to use our best judgment.”

The matter is frustratingly complicated, with disputes ranging from items allegedly smuggled out of the country-emphasis on “allegedly”-to ones simply without the right paperwork. Collectors declined to comment, but dealer Torkom Demirjian, owner of Ariadne Galleries on Madison Avenue, said he bought a Byzantine capital (the top adornment of a column in ancient architecture) at a public Italian auction with a “very well-cataloged, very well-illustrated” provenance several years ago. The Italian government would not allow Mr. Demirjian, who has faced repatriation claims in the past, to take the capital back to the States. His only option was to find an Italian buyer to purchase the object. He found one, but three months ago, he was sued by the Italian Ministry of Culture for moving the object from Venice, where he bought it, to Florence. He didn’t inform the Italian government of the move, he said, which is against Italian law. This gave them an opening to sue Mr. Demirjian to keep the capital, he said. “The American government will do nothing to help me, even though I did everything by the book,” he said.

He misses the good ol’ days.

“People did acquire things when it was not customary to have paper trails-it was true of art from all periods,” said Mr. Demirjian. “All of a sudden we come to 1970, and there is a shift requiring provenance information. To apply a very new rule for an old practice doesn’t really make sense.”

Of course, we apply lots of new laws to correct past wrongs. Oscar White Muscarella, an archaeologist recently retired from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a major proponent in keeping ancient art where it was found. The Met fired him in the early ’70s after he publicly accused the museum of purchasing a stolen Greek vase. Mr. Muscarella sued for his job back and won. He’s spoken loudly against plunder and illegal excavation in the decades since. “Archaeology is love,” he said. “Plunder is rape. People are hung up on collecting art as an expression of their wealth.”

Mr. Demirjian, understandably, disagrees. “if I were Italy, I would give money to America to have their cultural representation here,” he added. “Who can tell me today that a Roman urn in New York is less a Roman urn than in Italy? The idea that everything should be locked in a geographic boundary is a stupid, ridiculous idea.”

May 26th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

LOST CULTURE
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100525/jsp/opinion/story_12480035.jsp
Malvika Singh
Rabindranath Tagore and Santiniketan have both been neglected, their values and ethos have been allowed to crumble and decay, without the remotest effort being made to keep alive, celebrate, rekindle and enhance the raison d’être of the great man and his world view in today’s context. The challenge of ensuring creative transformations with the changing times has been non-existent. The once-upon-a-time fame, energy and vitality of Santiniketan have been diluted to the point of no return. Therefore, all the palaver about the auction in London of the Tagore paintings seems hypocritical. India could not prevent the Nobel award bestowed upon Tagore from being stolen from Santiniketan. It needs to put some management parameters in place before asking for or acquiring any more valuable artefact.

Acts such as these sum up the absence of priorities that plagues our brutalized land. Every single museum in the hands of the government and its babus, including the National Museum, is falling apart. No one at the top cares, and no one at the top works to bring about a complete overhaul. As with almost all things in India, leaders and babus complicate simple realities by finding explanations and excuses to prevent every small change, knowing well that true, simple changes could rock their stationary boat. They want no questions asked, no changes made and no delivery completed. Had there been ‘statesmen’ at the helm, individual leaders would have been compelled to deliver on a clearly enunciated and established mandate. Today, there is no comprehension, no commitment to the job, and zero accountability.

Change it

It was during the rule of Indira Gandhi that modern works of art were bought by our national museums and institutions. She understood the importance of the larger cultural traditions, past and contemporary. These disciplines were not placed on the back-burners and neglected, as they are today. She reached out to the young as well as to the experienced. Her friends and acquaintances were from a multitude of professions, and with varied interests, both here and abroad. She met and spoke, listened and worked. She never treated ‘culture’ with disdain. She silently supported and backed the Pupul Jayakars and others to transform their intangible thoughts into institutional realities. Certain things went wrong, others transcended time. But she had the guts to take risks and step out of line, disregarding the predictable cautioning by uninitiated bureaucrats who have been trained and taught to find a way ‘not-to-do’. She ‘used’ the bureaucrat and did not let the babu ‘use’ and manipulate her.

Surely, we need to resurrect our national and state museums from the abysmal state that they are in before we bring great artworks from protected spaces into our diseased ones. Let us sweep out the muck, display our unmatched treasures with skill and care, generate the much-needed pride, and then join in the international bids to acquire more. This cacophony of political voices asking for ‘their treasures’ to be returned for free, paintings that legitimately belong to others, is embarrassing and shameful. If India wants a particular object, India should pay the market price for it because only then will India respect, protect and conserve it.

We have permitted the government to destroy our legacy by keeping true professionals from civil society out of the governance of cultural institutions. Uninitiated babus have ruled. When enlightened leaders set the parameters, babus partially delivered if they felt they were being watched. Otherwise, they were on guard not to reveal themselves as they marked time. When the babu found that his bosses were not  really interested or committed to ‘culture’, he was the first to checkmate the king. This must change.

May 25th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anthony-amore/art-institutions-need-to_b_587582.html
Anthony Amore

Director of Security, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts

Posted: May 24, 2010 02:53 PM

Art Institutions Need to Remember That ‘It Can Happen Here’

The theft last week of priceless paintings, including works by Picasso, Matisse, and Modigliani, from the Paris Museum of Modern Art was not only a large-scale property theft, but another reminder that our cultural property remains vulnerable to criminals with little regard for our history as a civilization.

High-value art theft is nothing new. In recent years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation created an art crime team to tackle the problem, a testament to its prevalence throughout the U.S. and around the world. Police agencies in Europe dedicate enormous resources towards recovering stolen art and antiquities, and INTERPOL has joined the fight with an online database of stolen art.

However, prevention of the theft of our priceless cultural treasures, not just the recovery of these artworks once they are stolen, is key.

To put the prevalence of art theft into perspective, in Massachusetts alone, nearly every major museum in the state has fallen victim to art theft. These thefts have included works by Rembrandt, Gaugin, Degas, Picasso, Manet, and Vermeer. Art is likely to remain an attractive target for criminals, who see art theft as a lucrative endeavor.

Ironically, history has proven that despite the high dollar values attributed to masterpieces, there’s little, if any, money to be made in stealing art from museums. Thieves rarely think past the first step; they steal a priceless painting soon to find there’s no market for it due, in part, to its high visibility and recognition that means it cannot be shown. Even the most brazen criminal or would-be collector is unlikely to pay ten cents — or even a penny — on the dollar for a $100 million painting that they can never display. If criminals recognized the minimal value of stolen art to them, perhaps there would be fewer art thefts.

So why does art theft still happen? One reason is that most people — thieves included — base their perception of art theft and the art underworld on portrayals they’ve seen in film or on television. Only after they have captured their stolen loot do they realize that there is no market for it.

Art thieves are not typically the glamorous, highly-skilled cat burglars of popular fiction. Art thieves are the bank robbers, stick up men, drug dealers, and amateurish miscreants common to every big city or town. Where there is a big city, there are usually museums and important private collections. In other words, art thieves are potentially everywhere.

In order to properly protect the public against further attacks on our cultural heritage, it’s important that we understand who commits these crimes. Institutions need to realize that “it can happen here.” At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, which 20 years ago was the site of the biggest art theft in history, we know this all too well. That is why, even today, our security systems and procedures are in a constant state of improvement, utilizing the latest technologies and methods available to protect our unique collection. We’re deeply committed to preventing another loss.

Rather than sit back awe-struck at the dollar amounts attributed to stolen art, it is essential that communities and institutions see art thefts such as these as a call to action to allocate resources towards and to remain vigilant in protecting our cultural heritage.

Anthony Amore has been the Director of Security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts since 2005. For the past five years, he has also served as the museum’s chief investigator into the 1990 theft of 13 priceless works of art from that museum.

May 25th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Thomson painting, once thought fake, goes on the block
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/thomson-painting-once-thought-fake-goes-on-the-block/article1578771/g-once-though…

Rejected at $30,000 in 1987, rare double-sided panel may well fetch a cool million

James Adams

From Monday’s Globe and Mail Published on Sunday, May. 23, 2010 4:27PM EDT Last updated on Sunday, May. 23, 2010 5:10PM EDT

A Tom Thomson panel once discredited as a fake and which failed to sell the last time it was auctioned almost a quarter of a century ago is back on the block this week with expectations it could earn more than $1-million.

Heffel Fine Art Auction House is hoping to hammer down Landscape with Snow/Northern Mist for at least its presale estimate of $400,000 to  $600,000 on Wednesday in Vancouver. The small panel with a landscape on each side has been consigned by a Vancouver collector who bought it for an unspecified sum in late 2001.

Thomson has been dead for almost 93 years, but there’s no hotter painter in contemporary Canadian art. Late last year, Heffel sold a single-sided 1917 sketch slightly smaller than the one now on offer for $2.75-million – an auction record for a Thomson of any size. Double-sided Thomsons are rare, with most experts agreeing there are no more than five or six in total.

Heightening the rarity here is that the Landscape image is vertical, a format Thomson only occasionally used. Understandably, the hope at Heffel is that Landscape/Mist will follow the trajectory of previous sales and soar past the million-dollar threshold.

Another side of the Tom Thomson double-sided panel Landscape with Snow/Northern Mist.

The last time this particular panel was at auction, in 1987 in Toronto, bidding started at $40,000. When no bids came, the auctioneer dropped it to $30,000. Even this failed, and the panel (which was then called then Spring Landscape with Snow/Northern Mist) was withdrawn, pending “further research.”

The lack of action back then followed assessments by two Thomson experts who had questioned the panel’s authenticity. One was Blair Laing, Toronto’s pre-eminent dealer of blue-chip art to the Canadian Establishment; the other was Joan Murray, then executive director of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ont., and a Thomson scholar.

Laing told a CBC documentary crew that Landscape’s “composition” in particular “doesn’t work – it doesn’t speak to me as a Tom Thomson.” David Silcox, a Thomson expert and president of Sotheby’s Canada, recently agreed it’s “one of the most abstract-leaning Thomsons I’ve ever seen” – but then, as he and the late Harold Town observe in their book Tom Thomson: The Silence and the Storm, Thomson near the end of his life was a “perturbed” artist, “poised on the crevasse of figurative and non-figurative art.” Landscape with Snow reflects that tension.

Laing gave no precise reasons for his own disavowal. Even if others had declared it genuine – one was A.J. Casson, then the last surviving  member of the Group of Seven – Laing didn’t care: “There’s nobody special whose opinion on Thomson I’d value more than my own.” As for  Murray, she had earlier deemed the panel “a clumsy forgery” from the 1950s.

Since then, Laing has died (in 1991), while Murray seems to have changed her mind. She has contributed an essay on the panel for Heffel’s spring catalogue, saying Landscape likely was done by Thomson in October or November of 1916 in Algonquin Park, while Northern Mist “may date from an earlier time in the year – perhaps the summer.”

Most crucially perhaps, she’s including the panel in her much-anticipated overview catalogue of Thomson’s oeuvre; such inclusion is generally considered an almost unassailable approbation. “Certainly having a work in the catalogue raisonné, that’s decisive … the final confirmation,” agrees Robert Heffel, co-owner of Heffel Fine Art. Phone calls and an e-mail by The Globe and Mail to Murray went unanswered.

Murray’s thumbs-up is backed by Dennis Reid, chief curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario and, with Murray, a member of the selection committee for a 2002-03 touring Thomson retrospective. Reid saw the panel last week after last viewing it more than 20 years ago. He says that the estate stamps on each side of the panel are genuine, not the fakes used on Thomson forgeries from the 1950s. (After Thomson’s death, the Group’s J.E.H. MacDonald designed a stamp, in metal and rubber, that was pressed into the paintings Thomson left behind in Toronto. The stamp bears two Ts bracketed by the numbers 19 and 17, enclosed within a palette shape. Both stamps have been locked in the National Gallery for decades.)

Landscape/Mist became the first Thomson painting ever to undergo a detailed physical/chemical analysis when, in late 1989, the Canadian  Conservation Institute analyzed it using infrared spectroscopy, X-rays and other techniques. It concluded the panel was almost certainly a Thomson.

The panel was once the property of two Vermont sisters who inherited it in 1945. Their mother had bought it in 1922 at the direction of William Cruickshank, a Toronto artist who some believe gave sketching lessons to Thomson. The work stayed with the pair until late 1986 when, needing cash for a car, they sold it for $80,000 to David Mitchell, a Toronto art appraiser working with Hamilton’s Beckett Gallery.

Recent attempts to reach Mitchell, who still lives in Toronto, were unsuccessful. But according to news reports from the 1980s and the 1989 CBC film, Mitchell, utterly convinced of the panel’s authenticity, hoped to sell it privately for well over $100,000. When that strategy and the auction failed, the work was sent to the Canadian Conservation Institute. Yet even its positive verdict didn’t result in a sale: Beckett Gallery kept the paneluntil December of 2001, when a Vancouverite bought it.

In an e-mail to The Globe and Mail this week, Thomas Beckett, owner of the namesake gallery, said the Vancouver collector “paid market value” for the panel, “knowing its full history and provenance and [being] absolutely confident about its genuine authenticity.”

May 24th, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

‘Of all that we are fighting to preserve’
http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=283507
BY BRUCE KAUFFMANN FOR THE TH
Advertisement

Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during the Second World War, was not your typical soldier, as evidenced by the order he issued this week (May 26) in 1944, right before the Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.

Ike’s order directed his officers to “protect and respect,” to the extent possible, any cultural monuments — paintings, artwork, sculptures, historically significant buildings, etc. — that they encountered as they marched across Western Europe toward Nazi Germany.

Ike’s order stemmed from his horror at Allied destruction of the historic Abbey of Monte Cassino during the invasion of German-occupied Italy. Allied bombers had pulverized the centuries-old monastery — built around 529 A.D. — to root out German troops, only to discover no German troops were hiding there. Eisenhower was determined not to repeat that mistake.

He was helped immeasurably by an all-volunteer outfit of former art dealers, collectors, appraisers and general art aficionados who joined a  little-known U.S. Army unit called the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section. They called themselves the Monuments Men for short.

Their job was to attach themselves to Allied army units fighting across Europe, and whenever historically significant buildings or art works were identified as being in harm’s way, they were tasked with convincing battle-hardened army commanders — whose sole objective was to defeat the Germans regardless of the cost — to spare these cultural icons, even if it meant altering their military plans and objectives.

Given the intensity of combat against a German army fighting for survival, the Monuments Men were not always successful, at which point their job was to record the destruction of these cultural treasures for later repair and reconstruction.

The Monuments Men also spent significant time tracking down famous artworks stolen by high-ranking German officers and Nazi Party members. Among the most famous of these art thieves was Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Hitler’s second-in-command, whose personal collection of stolen art was hidden throughout Germany.

Artists whose work was recovered by this special unit included Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Vermeer and Michelangelo.

It was dangerous and often thankless work, and many Monuments Men were killed attempting to preserve the best of Europe’s cultural identity, meaning they died as much to save great art as to save democracy.

For decades their work was unknown and unsung. Indeed, it wasn’t until 2007 that the Monuments Men were honored for their mission, and  those honors came not from the U.S. Army, but from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which recognized them for having “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities.”

Ike, were he alive, would have approved. As he said of these cultural treasures, they are especially symbolic “of all that we are fighting to preserve.”

Kauffmann’s e-mail address is bruce@historylessons.net.

May 24th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

In March 1990, the Gardner Museum was inadvertently exposed by a night guard, who failed to follow museum security procedure when he opened the museum’s door for two policemen without first confirming that police headquarters had sent the officers. In this case, a procedural error in museum security resulted in the single greatest art theft in history. This past Thursday, Paris’s Musee d’art Moderne was victimized after numerous lapses in museum security practice and procedure.

*Originally posted at Art Theft Central

http://arttheftcentral.blogspot.com/2010/05/art-theft-musee-dart-moderne-de-la.html

May 22nd, 2010

Posted In: art theft, Art Theft General

Image of Paris art thief captured on CCTV “like cubist painting”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7753960/Image-of-Paris-art-thief-captured-on-CCTV-like-cubist-painting.html

The face of the masked raider who made off with five paintings worth an estimated £100 million from a Paris gallery were caught on CCTV, it emerged on Saturday.

By By Peter Allen in Paris
Published: 6:46PM BST 22 May 2010

‘La pastorale’ by Henri Matisse was one of the works stolen Photo: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
But they are so poor that they resemble a ‘cubist painting’ and are unlikely to be able to identify him.

The problem with what one investigator described as ‘faulty CCTV’ is the latest in a catalogue of embarrassment for the city’s Museum of Modern Art, which underwent a pounds 15 million security refit just four years ago.

The problems included an alarm system which had been broken for almost two months and three ‘dozing’ guards who ‘saw nothing’.

With the alarm’s array of sirens and sensors out of action, the intruder was able to slip into the museum on Thursday morning and calmly remove a Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Modigliani and Leger in just under 15 minutes.

Now it has emerged that he stared into at least one of the internal closed circuit cameras for ‘a few seconds’.

‘It’s a terrible image,’ said the investigator, ‘It looks just like a poor cubist painting — disjointed and strange and with no overall meaning.

‘We’re trying to piece it together slowly but it is almost certain that we will not be able to identify the man from it.’

The investigator also revealed that the thief had expert knowledge of the Museum, picking out three of its 20 galleries after breaking in through the East Wing.

After taking four of the paintings, including the Picasso, from two, he walked to another to pick up the Modigliani. All of the works were removed from their frames and then rolled up into a single bundle.

‘We’re trying to find finger prints or even DNA samples on what he left behind,’ said the source.

Christophe Girard, deputy mayor of Paris, confirmed that the cameras were working but at some point ‘went opaque’.

An unnamed colleague of the deputy mayor, meanwhile, said that none of the works were insured.

“To put it bluntly — the town council will have to foot the bill,” he said.

Paris City Hall, which is run by the Socialist Party, was officially the manager of the permanent exhibition of 20th Century modern art from which the paintings were stolen.

They were: Pigeon with Green Peas by Pablo Picasso (1912); Pastoral by Henri Matisse (1905); The Olive Tree near Estaque by Georges Braque (1906); The Woman with the Fan by Amedeo Modigliani (1919); and Still Life with Chandeliers by Fernand Leger (1922).

In 2006 the museum reopened after what was supposed to have been a ‘state-of-the-art refit’ , which included the fitting of the Spie alarm system.

However, it had been broken for almost two months on the morning of the raid because of a missing part.

Both city hall and Spie are carrying out internal investigations, as police seek the raider responsible for the crime.

Confirming an ‘internal administrative enquiry’, Paris mayor Bernard Delanoe said ‘all have questions to answer.’

Nobody at either City Hall or the museum would make an official comment about the vexed issue of insurance.

Viscount Charles Dupplin, of Hiscox insurance, said he thought the criminals involved were ‘almost certainly enthusiastic amateurs’ who had decided to launch the raid after ‘getting excited’ about recent high prices for Picassos and other works.

America’s FBI estimates the stolen art market at being worth more than pounds 5 billion. The Art Loss Register lists more than 170,000 pieces of stolen and missing pieces.

Picasso is the world’s most stolen artist due to his prolific output and the value of his works. The Art Loss Register lists some 550 missing Picassos.

May 22nd, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Image of Paris art thief captured on CCTV “like cubist painting”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7753960/Image-of-Paris-art-thief-captured-on-CCTV-like-cubist-painting.html

The face of the masked raider who made off with five paintings worth an estimated £100 million from a Paris gallery were caught on CCTV, it emerged on Saturday.

By By Peter Allen in Paris
Published: 6:46PM BST 22 May 2010

‘La pastorale’ by Henri Matisse was one of the works stolen Photo: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
But they are so poor that they resemble a ‘cubist painting’ and are unlikely to be able to identify him.

The problem with what one investigator described as ‘faulty CCTV’ is the latest in a catalogue of embarrassment for the city’s Museum of Modern Art, which underwent a pounds 15 million security refit just four years ago.

The problems included an alarm system which had been broken for almost two months and three ‘dozing’ guards who ‘saw nothing’.

With the alarm’s array of sirens and sensors out of action, the intruder was able to slip into the museum on Thursday morning and calmly remove a Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Modigliani and Leger in just under 15 minutes.

Now it has emerged that he stared into at least one of the internal closed circuit cameras for ‘a few seconds’.

‘It’s a terrible image,’ said the investigator, ‘It looks just like a poor cubist painting — disjointed and strange and with no overall meaning.

‘We’re trying to piece it together slowly but it is almost certain that we will not be able to identify the man from it.’

The investigator also revealed that the thief had expert knowledge of the Museum, picking out three of its 20 galleries after breaking in through the East Wing.

After taking four of the paintings, including the Picasso, from two, he walked to another to pick up the Modigliani. All of the works were removed from their frames and then rolled up into a single bundle.

‘We’re trying to find finger prints or even DNA samples on what he left behind,’ said the source.

Christophe Girard, deputy mayor of Paris, confirmed that the cameras were working but at some point ‘went opaque’.

An unnamed colleague of the deputy mayor, meanwhile, said that none of the works were insured.

“To put it bluntly — the town council will have to foot the bill,” he said.

Paris City Hall, which is run by the Socialist Party, was officially the manager of the permanent exhibition of 20th Century modern art from which the paintings were stolen.

They were: Pigeon with Green Peas by Pablo Picasso (1912); Pastoral by Henri Matisse (1905); The Olive Tree near Estaque by Georges Braque (1906); The Woman with the Fan by Amedeo Modigliani (1919); and Still Life with Chandeliers by Fernand Leger (1922).

In 2006 the museum reopened after what was supposed to have been a ‘state-of-the-art refit’ , which included the fitting of the Spie alarm system.

However, it had been broken for almost two months on the morning of the raid because of a missing part.

Both city hall and Spie are carrying out internal investigations, as police seek the raider responsible for the crime.

Confirming an ‘internal administrative enquiry’, Paris mayor Bernard Delanoe said ‘all have questions to answer.’

Nobody at either City Hall or the museum would make an official comment about the vexed issue of insurance.

Viscount Charles Dupplin, of Hiscox insurance, said he thought the criminals involved were ‘almost certainly enthusiastic amateurs’ who had decided to launch the raid after ‘getting excited’ about recent high prices for Picassos and other works.

America’s FBI estimates the stolen art market at being worth more than pounds 5 billion. The Art Loss Register lists more than 170,000 pieces of stolen and missing pieces.

Picasso is the world’s most stolen artist due to his prolific output and the value of his works. The Art Loss Register lists some 550 missing Picassos.

May 22nd, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Picasso work taken as art thieves strike in Marseille
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/10142303.stm

Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Saturday, 22 May 2010 16:24 UK

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Thursday’s theft targeted the Museum of Modern Art in Paris
Thieves have stolen five pictures, including a lithograph by Picasso, from the home of a private collector in southern France, police sources say.

The owner was beaten up during the robbery at his Marseille home.

The value of the stolen works has not yet been made public.

The theft came a day after paintings worth just under 100m euros (£86m; $123m) by Picasso, Matisse and other major artists were taken from a museum in Paris.

In the latest theft, judicial police said two men managed to get past two security gates at the collector’s Marseille home and then knocked at the door, AP news agency reported.

According to Reuter, the most important work taken was a lithograph of a woman’s face painted by Picasso.

The works missing after Thursday’s theft in Paris are: Dove with Green Peas by Pablo Picasso (painted in 1911); Pastoral by Henri Matisse (1906); Olive Tree near l’Estaque by Georges Braque (1906); Woman with Fan by Amedeo Modigliani (1919); and Still Life with Candlestick by Fernand Leger (1922).

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe has admitted one of the alarms at the Museum of Modern art had been “partly malfunctioning” since the end of March, and had been awaiting repair when the theft happened.

May 22nd, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Israeli art detectives crack a forgery riddle
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/22/AR2010052201905_pf.html
By MATTI FRIEDMAN
The Associated Press
Saturday, May 22, 2010; 12:25 PM

JERUSALEM — The portrait of a glum, bespectacled man was about to go on auction in Amsterdam when someone at Sotheby’s noticed a problem: Israel’s national museum owned precisely the same painting.

One of them had to be a fake.

For curators at the Israel Museum, cracking the riddle of the Jozef Israels self-portrait and its mysterious twin meant tracking down a tale about a forgotten Turkish pasha and an eccentric Jerusalem artist, and using infrared cameras to peer underneath the painting’s muted oils.

The impostor, they now say, has been revealed. It is nearly as old as the original, and its provenance is more interesting.

Israels, the man who painted the original, was a renowned Dutch artist of the 19th century whose style drew comparisons with Rembrandt and whose works today regularly fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

The first self-portrait, the one in the museum’s collection, had been given by Israels himself to a friend, Boris Schatz, in 1909. Schatz, born in Lithuania and trained in Paris, was a Jewish artist and occasional boxer who discovered Zionism and abandoned the European art scene for Jerusalem, then a Mideastern backwater, where he founded a visionary art school in 1906 and became known for his trademark white robe and pet peacock.

After Schatz died, part of his collection, including the portrait, eventually became the nucleus of the Israel Museum.

Last year, Jimmy Lewensohn, Schatz’s great-great-nephew and the executor of his estate, decided to sell a painting that had long been in the family’s private collection: a Jozef Israels self-portrait from 1909. Hoping to donate the proceeds to the Israel Museum, he arranged for Sotheby’s to auction it in Amsterdam.

Then the auction house called him in Israel. “Is it possible that this painting is not the original?” a representative asked, Lewensohn recalled, the implication being that he was knowingly peddling a fake. “This wasn’t a pleasant conversation,” he said.

The painting Lewensohn wanted to sell was where it had always been – in the family’s possession. But when he called the Israel Museum, the European art curator checked and informed him that he must be mistaken: The painting was in the museum. It was not regularly on display, so Lewensohn did not know it existed.

The curators placed them side by side in a museum restoration lab. They were stumped.

The paintings showed the same man with the same beard, hat and glasses. They had the same expert brush strokes, down to the little rust-brown streak beside the nose. Both were dated 1909 and signed Jozef Israels.

Because the new painting originated in the same place – the Schatz family – its claim to authenticity rivaled that of the museum’s version. So which one was the fake? Would the real Jozef Israels please stand up?

The curators quickly figured out where the forgery must have originated: with Boris Schatz himself. Only he would have been able to leave one painting to the museum and another to his own family. But there was no indication that Schatz had ever tried to sell or exhibit it before his death in 1932, and why would Schatz, a respected artist in his own right, forge a painting?

The attempt to unravel the mystery led to a strange story recorded in a 1972 book by art historian Heinrich Strauss which pointed back to a time when Palestine was part of the empire of the Ottoman Turks.

During the First World War, the story went, Schatz’s art school in Jerusalem was visited by a high-ranking Turkish official, Jemal Pasha. The Turk was taken with the portrait, the school’s most valuable European piece, and informed Schatz he would be back the next day to take it.

Rather than lose one of his best paintings, Schatz sat down overnight and painted a copy to present as the real thing, according to Strauss. But the commander never showed up, the Turks were booted out of Palestine by the British not long afterward, and the fake remained in the collection.

Yigal Zalmona, one of the museum curators, believed this solved the riddle. “This was a forged painting made to save a real painting,” he said.

Another curator, Shlomit Steinberg, saw holes in the story. Schatz, whose Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design remains Israel’s most prestigious art school, might have been skillful enough to pull off such an expert copy, she said, but could not have done it overnight; oil paints can take months to dry.

“The threads of this story do not quite fit,” she said. Instead, she has a different theory: that the painting was a copy done as an art exercise by Schatz or one of his talented pupils.

Both explanations were plausible, but neither indicated which painting was the fake. This required the expertise of the museum’s senior conservator in charge of oil paintings, Ghiora Elon.

“I am like a military tracker, but for art,” Elon said. “There are many signs in paintings that the untrained eye doesn’t see and we do.”

Elon and his team scanned both paintings with an infrared camera but saw nothing of interest.

Elon then looked closely at both paintings, focusing on the glasses and the hat. Those details looked nearly identical when viewed frontally.  But in the newly arrived portrait, when viewed from the side, they lost their distinct shape and appeared to have been done by a less skilled artist or by one working in a hurry.

Then Elon checked the fabric. The recently discovered painting was painted on cotton. The museum’s was done on linen, a more expensive  material far more likely to have been used by a wealthy painter in Europe than by someone working in a poor city like Jerusalem.

The museum’s painting was the real thing, Elon concluded. The new arrival was the fake.

But rather than competing with the original, the fake only adds to its mystique, elevating the portrait into an enigmatic player in forgotten history.

For now, both paintings remain on a table in a museum back room, wearing identical poker faces and looking as if they were always meant to be together.

May 22nd, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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May 21st, 2010

Posted In: diefstal uit museum

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May 21st, 2010

Posted In: diefstal uit museum

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article7131750.ece
May 20, 2010

Masked thief steals priceless masterpieces from Paris museum

"Le pigeon aux petits pois" picasso

Le pigeon aux petits pois (Dove with Green Peas, 1912, Pablo Picasso)

Image :1 of 3

Charles Bremner in Paris

A lone masked intruder stole five priceless paintings, including a Matisse and a Picasso, from the Paris Museum of Modern Art last night.

Guards discovered the theft as they made their rounds at dawn and police have described the raid as one of the most daring thefts for many years. Security cameras at the museum showed a hooded man cutting open a window, breaking locks and climbing inside, police said.

He apparently cut the art works from their frames, leaving them empty on the wall. It was not clear whether the man could have been working alone or had accomplices inside the museum.

The stolen Picasso is a 1912 oil painting, Le pigeon aux petits pois (Dove with Green Peas). Also taken were Henri Matisse’s La Pastorale (Pastoral, 1905), Georges Braque’s L’Olivier près de l’Estaque (Olive tree near Estaque, 1906), Amédéo Modigliani’s La femme a l’éventail (Woman with a Fan, 1919), and Fernand Léger’s Nature Morte au Chandelier (Still Life with a Chandelier, 1922).

The prosecutor’s office initially estimated the five paintings’ total worth at as much as €500 million. Christophe Girard, deputy culture secretary at Paris City Hall, later said the total value was “just under €100 million”.

As stolen goods with well-known histories, however, they might be worth more for possible ransom, police speculated.

The museum was closed to visitors this morning as police and investigators cordoned off the area in the Palais de Tokyo, across the River Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

A notice on the door said “Closed today for technical reasons”.

The Brigade de Répression du Banditisme, the elite police unit that fights organised crime and art theft, has taken charge of the investigation.

Picasso is the world’s most stolen artist, according to the London-based Art Loss Register.

In June last year a sketchbook worth more than €8 million was stolen from the Picasso museum in Paris. It has not been recovered.

In 2007, two paintings by the artist vanished from his granddaughter’s home in Paris.

Paris suffered three major art thefts in one day in 1990, forcing the city to step up security at its art collections.

May 20th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

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May 20th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

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May 20th, 2010

Posted In: Museum thefts

Auschwitz memorial closed due to flood threat
(AP) – 7 hours ago
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jKcv0ytdcSqJ0J1NQnf5R5nIC2lwD9FP5Q4G1

WARSAW, Poland — A spokesman says the site of the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau has been closed indefinitely due to a threat of flooding.

Jaroslaw Mensfelt said Tuesday that the memorial site is threatened by high water in two nearby rivers, the Vistula and the Sola, following days of heavy rain.

Archives and some exhibits, including brushes and bowls that belonged to victims, have been moved from ground level to upper floors of buildings that house them.

Mensfelt said it is the first time that Auschwitz, which gets about a million visitors a year, has closed due to the threat of flooding.

During World War II, Nazi Germany killed more than 1 million people at the death camp. The overwhelming majority of the victims were Jews.

May 18th, 2010

Posted In: Flooding and waterdamage

Trust defends security after silver stolen
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2010/05/18/trust-defends-security-after-silver-stolen-91466-26465999/
May 18 2010 by Our Correspondent, Western Mail

THE National Trust defended its security measures yesterday following the theft of silverware thought to be worth thousands of pounds in a break-in at a stately home.

Thieves made off with high-value Indian silver items from the Eastern Museum at Kedleston Hall in Derby in the early hours of May 2.

Lady Scarsdale, whose son Richard Curzon lives at the neo-classical mansion, has reportedly criticised the National Trust, which runs it, for neglecting security there.

She said: “We told them security had to improve. We asked for CCTV to be installed, but nothing has been done even though there have been two other attempted burglaries in the past three years.

“It’s shocking really.”

But the Trust insisted that “every effort” was made to prevent damage and theft at its properties.

Victoria Flanagan, property manager of Kedleston Hall, said: “The National Trust has a very strict annual security audit process.

“In addition, security is always reviewed after a break-in attempt and appropriate remedial actions are taken.

“In light of the recent break-in at Kedleston Hall, the Trust is working closely with security advisers and the police to assess the current security systems and all possible steps will be taken to prevent future break-ins.

“Security is of paramount importance to the National Trust, especially due to the value of the collections held at many of its properties.”

Intruder alarms were activated in the building immediately after the theft and police attended the scene but the thieves were not caught, Derbyshire Constabulary said.

Among the loot stolen from the hall was a silver wine cooler, silver bowl, silver frame containing a photograph of Lady Curzon and two silver caskets.

Most of the objects were acquired by Lord Curzon while he was Viceroy of India between 1889 and 1905, although the wine cooler was made in 1916 by Francis Adams out of pieces of Indian silver.

Ms Flanagan added: “For the National Trust, as a registered charity, losing these objects which are irreplaceable and of great importance to  the collection is extremely sad. We would urge anyone who has any information to contact the police.”

Police are also appealing for anyone with information about the theft.

May 18th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Police in Argentina Recover 77 Paintings Stolen Last November
http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=38089

Police officers stand behind a section of the recovered 74 paintings in Bueno Aires May 15, 2010. The paintings, stolen on November 2009 from a private museum and are valued at about $3 million, could be one of the biggest recoveries in terms of quantity in the police’s history according to police sources. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian.

BUENOS AIRES (REUTERS).- Some 77 paintings and other art objects by national and international artists valued at about $ 4 million were recovered by police in Argentina on Saturday.

Among the recovered works are paintings by artists like Antonio Berni, Raul Soldi, Lino Spilimbergo and other Argentine artists, together with original porcelain of high value.

The objects were stolen last November from a private collection in the town of Pilar about 60 kilometers from Buenos Aires.

The collection belongs to Doctor Omar Mantovani, who worked with the current coach of Argentina’s National soccer team, Diego Maradona, said sources consulted.

Police sources said that five persons had been arrested and that ten paintings still had to be recovered.

May 18th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

“You must understand what the Parthenon Marbles mean to us. They are our pride. They are our sacrifices. They are the supreme symbol of nobility. They are a tribute to democratic philosophy. They are our aspiration and our name. They are the essence of Greekness”.

Melina Mercouri (1)
After a long period of studying the question of restitution of cultural artefacts, I thought I had heard all the arguments that could be advanced for or againstrestitution. However, I received a jolt of surprise when I saw an article by Michael Kimmelman entitled “Who Draws the Borders of Culture?” in which, among other contestable statements, he wrote concerning the dismemberment of the Parthenon and its scattering outside Greece, the following:
“Over the centuries, meanwhile, bits and pieces of the Parthenon have ended up in six different countries, in the way that countless altars and other works of art have been split up and dispersed among private collectors and museums here and there. To the Greeks the Parthenon marbles may be a singular cause, but they’re like plenty of other works that have been broken up and disseminated. The effect of this vandalism on the education and enlightenment of people in all the various places where the dismembered works have landed has been in many ways democratizing.” (2)

READ FULL TEXT AT: http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_vandalism.htm

May 16th, 2010

Posted In: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects

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May 15th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

We reproduce below an ICOM Press Release on an agreement signed on 10
May 2010 between Tanzania and the Geneva Museum Barbier-Mueller on the
return of a Makonde mask which had been stolen from the National
Museum of Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam in 1984.

Readers should not be misled by the title of the agreement which
suggests that this was a “donation” and thereby creating the
impression that this is a sign of generosity on the part of the
museum. The matter went before UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee
for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of
Origin or Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation. It is said in
the press release that the issue came before the Committee because of
misunderstanding.
Perhaps we should not worry too much about the formulation of the
agreement in view of the concrete result achieved. We should
congratulate the parties concerned and hope that the many other
African artefacts which are alleged to have been illegitimately
acquired will soon be subjects of agreement.(see “Let Others loot for
you: looting of African Artefacts for Western Museums”
http://www.modernghana.com “Recovering Nigeria’s Terracotta”
http://www.museum-security.org )

READ COMPLETE TEXT AT:
http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_barbier_muller.htm

May 15th, 2010

Posted In: African Affairs, Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects

http://www.ethiopianreview.com/news/109014
ICE returns Salvadoran artifacts

EthiopianReview.com | May 14th, 2010 at 1:01 am

WASHINGTON – The Embassy of El Salvador was the scene May 12 of the return of dozens of pre-Columbian and Mayan artifacts that were seized in the first joint concurrent investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the National Civilian Police of El Salvador into an international smuggling ring that was selling these antiquities on the Internet.

ICE Deputy Assistant Secretary Alonzo Pena presented dozens of cultural items to appointed Ambassador Francisco Altschul in a ceremony   that was streamed live in video to the Salvadoran Foreign Ministry in San Salvador, where other pieces seized in the Salvadoran investigation were on display. The items were all pre-Columbian, many of them Mayan, and are forbidden to export except with the express permission of the Secretariat of Culture.

This joint investigation began three years ago, when a Customs and Border Protection agent at a Miami mail facility noticed what appeared to be pre-Columbian artifacts coming into the United States through the mail and destined for Alabama. ICE began an investigation that would involve the ICE attaché in El Salvador, the Salvadoran National Civilian Police and the ICE Cyber Crimes Center as well as ICE agents in Miami, Atlanta, Tampa and St. Paul and CBP officers in Miami. Also returned at this ceremony were pre-Columbian items that were recovered in a separate ICE investigation in Denver involving a consignment store and online sales.

Ultimately, El Salvador arrested and had prosecuted a man and wife who were advertising Mayan and pre-Columbian artifacts on sales sites such as E-Bay and selling to customers around the world. There were no Mayan antiquities registered to their names, as required by Salvadoran law. The U.S. investigation is still ongoing. All of the items seized in this investigation are covered by the export restrictions put in place in 1995 by El Salvador under a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Department of State that is designed to curb the pillage of the El Salvador’s heritage.

“We are celebrating today the fruitful collaboration of all our agencies in protecting the cultural heritage of the people of Latin America,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Pena. “More than that, we are honoring the dedication of our law enforcement officers in working together to find the culprits in this Internet scheme, stop the leeching of priceless pieces of El Salvador’s history and bring those responsible to justice. This is another step in our long partnership with El Salvador.”

“This morning the governments of El Salvador and the United States have sent a strong message to the international traffickers of archaeological artifacts looted from El Salvador: we are determined to fight this illegal practice which undermines the culture of our countries,” said appointed Ambassador Altschul. “Just two months ago, on March 2nd, our governments extended for an additional period of five years, an important Memorandum of Understanding that prohibits illegal imports into the United States of archaeological material from the Salvadoran pre-Columbian culture. These archaeological pieces will return to our country and will remain in custody of the Salvadoran people for the benefit and enjoyment of the world.”

“Through the facilitation and enforcement of U.S. trade laws, these pre-Columbian artifacts will provide the people of El Salvador a piece of their cultural heritage,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Field Operations Thomas Winkowski. “Customs and Border Protection is pleased to work in partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce U.S. customs law and to return priceless artifacts to their lawful owners.”

Altogether, the ICE and Salvadoran police investigation recovered 45 artifacts, many of which are already in the custody of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in El Salvador. The pieces on display at the ceremony were destined to cities around the United States before being seized by CBP and ICE. The Salvadoran ring also had clients in Japan, England and France.

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a leading role in investigating crimes involving the illicit importation and distribution of cultural property, art and antiquities. ICE’s Cultural Property Art and Antiquities unit and Office of International Affairs work jointly to identify, investigate and eventually return art and cultural items to their countries of origin or rightful owners.

ICE uses investigative authority to seize cultural property, art and antiquities if they were illegally imported into the United States. It also investigates the illegal trafficking of artwork, especially works that have been reported lost or stolen. ICE’s Office of International Affairs, through its 63 attaché offices worldwide, works closely with foreign governments to conduct joint investigations.

CBP is the unified border agency within DHS charged with the management, control and protection of U.S. borders at and between official ports of entry. ICE investigates cultural artifacts that appear to have been imported illegally and often show up for sale in the U.S. market.

(Source: ICE)

May 14th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Art stolen by Hitler discovered at SMU museum

http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Art-Stolen-by-Hitler-Found-at-SMU-Meadows-Museum-93695214.html
by DAVID SCHECHTER

WFAA

Posted on May 13, 2010 at 11:32 PM

Updated today at 10:20 AM

UNIVERSITY PARK — The SMU Meadows Museum, known as one of America’s great university museums, recently discovered three of its most prominent works have a breathtaking past.

They were part of the biggest art heist in the history of the world: Adolf Hitler’s systematic plundering of priceless art from Jewish families.

The paintings’ history was discovered by Robert Edsel, the director of Monuments Men Foundation in Dallas. The group identifies and returns priceless art that was stolen from Jewish families.

“They’re not just treasures of civilization, but they’re representative of families who lost their lives and had everything stolen from them — sometimes, including their lives,” said Edsel.

While doing research for his own book about stolen Nazi art, Edsel stumbled across the SMU link. There in an old photo from Germany, after  World War II, was a painting Edsel had seen before.

“That’s got to be the same painting,” Edsel remembers thinking.

It was the multi-million dollar Spanish masterpiece “Saint Justa” — part of a famous pair of paintings by the renowned artist by Bartolome Esteban Murillo.

It was the same painting Edsel knew well from the Meadows Museum at SMU.

Then Edsel spotted another photo from Germany. In it, “Saint Rufina,” the companion piece to the first painting.

“In fact, we believe these two paintings were stolen,” said Edsel.

“Naturally, at first, I think it was surprise,” said Nicole Atzbach the assistant curator at the Meadows.

The truth behind the Murillo paintings was found on the back of their frames. Each had a number — now long-faded. The more legible, behind “Saint Justa,” reads “R1171.” That’s a Nazi code used to inventory stolen art.

“There was no doubt about it, because R1171 stood for Rothschild, R, 1171 — the 1,171st object stolen from the Rothschilds,” Edsel explained. “In fact, they stole more than 6,000 things.”

So there’s no doubt the pieces at the Meadows were looted by the Nazis.

And there’s also no doubt that the Meadows purchased the pieces at auction.

So to whom do these multi-million-dollar masterpieces now belong? That question has not yet been answered.

SMU has hired art experts in London and Paris to follow the Nazis’ meticulous paperwork and fill in one missing gap in the paintings’ chain of custody.

After the war, museum curators serving in the military recovered millions of stolen works stolen by the Nazis, including the two pieces at SMU.

Documents from that process show the SMU Murillos were returned to the French government.

What’s missing in the paper trail are documents proving the French returned the works to the family before Meadows bought them.

“Some governments didn’t try very hard, or didn’t have the resources to get all these works back, and later on may have sold these things; or  they may be hanging in government buildings without them having been properly restituted,” Edsel said.

Solving art mysteries is a painstaking process and can take years.

But both Edsel and SMU believe this mystery will be solved in the museum’s favor.

For one thing, the Meadows has displayed the pieces around the world and published them in catalogs without anyone making a claim. They have also had success answering the same question about another painting in their collection — “Portrait of Queen Mariana” by Diego Velazquez.

After hearing from Edsel, SMU checked the backs of all the paintings in its collection and found that the Velazquez had also been stolen by Hitler — code R338, also stolen from the Rothschild family.

But in this case, a single piece of paper is the final piece of proof. Its receipt shows it was properly returned to the family before it was sold.

That chain is complete. That mystery is solved.

“We want to know as much as we can, is the bottom line,” Atzbach said.

Edsel also wants to know, and he wants all museums to follow SMU’s lead: Pull every painting off every wall and answer every lingering question.

Only then can art lovers continue to right Hitler’s wrongs.

SMU statement about ownership of Murilo paintings:

The Meadows Museum’s collection includes some of the most important works of art in the world, and we take questions of provenance very  seriously. Research undertaken by the Meadows Museum of the two Murillo paintings, Santa Justa and Santa Rufina, is ongoing, and as such, it would be premature to speculate on the outcome of that research. Thus far, research by external researchers associated with both Mr. Edsel and SMU have determined that the paintings were most likely restituted. The Meadows Museum continues to conduct provenance research on these paintings and all of the works in its collections, both independently and in collaboration with consultants in London and Paris, SMU and the Meadows Museum are confident that we will find the last piece of the puzzle with regard to the provenance of these paintings.

The Meadows Museum follows the guidelines established by both the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) with regard to works of art that changed hands in Continental Europe between 1933 and 1945, as is the case with Santa Justa and Santa Rufina. In accordance with these guidelines, the Meadows Museum has already published the provenance of the two paintings on its Web site, as well as listing the works on the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal (www.nepip.org), which is managed by the AAM.

In the 38 years these paintings by Murillo have been in the Meadows Collection, almost continuously on view, widely published and frequently featured in exhibitions in Europe and the United States, no claimant has come forward. In the event that a claimant should come forward, the Meadows Museum would recommend that SMU continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the AAM and the AAMD with regard to claims of ownership, which state that “If a museum determines that an object in its collection was unlawfully appropriated during the Nazi era without subsequent restitution, the museum should seek to resolve the matter with the claimant in an equitable, appropriate, and mutually agreeable manner” (from the “American Association of Museums Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era”, 2001).

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

May 14th, 2010

Posted In: WWII

Gosport museum hit by lead thefts
http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/newshome/Gosport-museum-hit-by-lead.6291773.jp

Marc Farrance

Published Date: 13 May 2010
Thieves are continuing to target a museum in Gosport.
Lead was taken from the roof of the Explosion museum in Priddy’s Hard overnight between Tuesday May 4 and Wednesday May 5.

It’s believed the culprits may have approached the museum from the water.

Marc Farrance, manager of Explosion, said: ‘The boathouse is one of a number of shore facing buildings that is secluded from public sight.

‘The buildings are vulnerable and are accessible from the shoreline.

‘So far lead has been stripped from the Museum Coffee Shop, Education Centre and Missiles Gallery.

‘The thieves are very aggressive with their tactics. We have implemented a number of deterrents and are working closely with the local police to try and combat this threat.

‘It is frustrating that these attacks on our buildings continue.’

Neil Miller, a spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘We are determined to prevent this kind of crime being committed in the future.

‘We have provided the museum with a security report, suggesting measures that could be taken to prevent futher crimes of this nature.

‘We would ask that if anyone witnessed the lead being stolen, or has any information about those responsible, they should contact Gosport police station on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.’

May 14th, 2010

Posted In: metal theft

Sculpture stolen from Ithaca park
http://www.cnycentral.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=456251
ITHACA — It weighs more than 200 pounds and is worth about $15,000, but a bronze statue in Dewitt Park in Ithaca is no where to be found.

The sculpture, by Miguel Antonio Horn, called Chaman, had been at the park for almost two years before it was stolen. Now folks in Ithaca are offering a reward to get the sculpture back.

A small tree stands in the park without it’s sitting companion. At some point in April, the sculpture disappeared from this spot and into thin air.

Kris Lewis is the Director of Operations and Retail with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. She said, “It took someone, several someones, with some kind of a vehicle to pick this up and cart it away.”

“He’s really been here in this park for two years and he is like a landmark almost. So it was extremely upsetting to have him stolen,” said Lewis.

The Downtown Ithaca Alliance is offering a $250 reward for the return the sculpture with no questions asked.

Lewis said, “Every morning when I drive to work I look over to see if he’s sitting here and he’s not. But we keep hoping.”

The theft has left people who visit this park upset.

Stacie Burgos walks through the park frequently on her lunch break. She said, “I’m disappointed when there is any kind of theft of any kind. This is something that is supposed to be for the park and for the enjoyment of everyone and now its gone.”

But they’re hoping Chapman will be returned and they’re planning to make him a little more difficult to steal in the future.

Lewis said, “If he comes back, I’ve already been talking about getting a concrete slab down and anchor him better.”

The Downtown Ithaca Alliance says this theft won’t stop them from continuing to bring outdoor art to downtown during the summer months. In fact, this will be the 11th year for Art in the Heart of the City and they have several more pieces of art that will be installed in the coming months.

May 14th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Trailer and art stolen from home
http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=12458557
Posted: May 10, 2010 9:13 PM
Updated: May 10, 2010 9:13 PM
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – Sheriff’s detectives are looking for a stolen
trailer with thousands of dollars worth of art inside.

Investigators believe the trailer, containing paintings and displays,
was taken on April 29th around 10:15 a.m. from a home in the 10000
block of Jefferson Highway.

The trailer is a white, 16 foot long, dual axle Transport Utility
Trailer.  It is missing both fenders, has a dent in the side and the
word “Transport” on the back in blue.

Anyone with information on the theft of the trailer should call the
East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office at 225-389-5000 or Crime Stoppers at
344-STOP.  Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for anyone with
information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Copyright 2010 WAFB. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

May 11th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Iraqi official: Theft of antiquities reaching dangerous levels
http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/322899,iraqi-official-theft-of-antiquities-reaching-dangerous-levels.html
Posted : Mon, 10 May 2010 11:49:51 GMT
By : dpa
Category : Culture (General)

Baghdad – The theft of ancient artifacts from an important historical
site in Iraq’s southern Nasiriyah province is accelerating to
dangerous levels, an Iraqi official warned on Monday.

The Tel Joukha area, around 10 kilometres square and just west of the
city of al-Rifae, holds artifacts from the Sumerian kingdom, dating
back to 5,000 BC, Jamil Yusuf Shabib, Vice President of Nasiriyah
local council’s anti-corruption commitee, told dpa.

“Tel Joukha is being subjected to frequent looting, particularly by
residents of the areas surrounding the site,” he said.

The committee had called on police forces to protect the artifacts
numerous times, said Shabib, but the thefts continued to take place
“in plain sight of everyone.”

The area contains artifacts from some of the most important kingdoms
in Iraqi history, Amer Abdel-Raziq al-Zubaidi, head of Iraq’s
antiquities department, said.

“I call on the Iraqi and the Nasiriya local government as well as
international organizations to protect this area and establish a
security presence there, as well as to carry out excavations as soon
as possible in order to save these precious artifacts,” al-Zubaidi
said.

The Nasiriyah area, 375 kilometres south of Baghdad, is historically
rich, with more than 1,200 known archaeological sites from successive
civilisations spanning 7,000 years.

May 11th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Johnson gang leader faces longer sentence
10 May 2010
http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/7534.aspx
THE ringleader of the notorious Johnson family gang, who played the
key role in a series of audacious thefts at stately homes across the
UK, faces an increased prison sentence.

The judge in a confiscation hearing is convinced 34-year-old Danny
O’Loughlin knows where at least some of the stolen art and antiques
are hidden.

On April 30, following a lengthy and detailed hearing at Reading Crown
Court, Judge Christopher Critchlow said O’Loughlin – “probably the
leader” of the Gloucestershire gang – had made £1,229,748 from the
theft of £30m in art and antiques from properties including Ramsbury
Manor in Wiltshire, Warneford Place in Swindon and The Manor, in
Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act of 2003, O’Loughlin – currently
serving the 11 year sentence he received in 2008 – was told he must
hand over £113,200 within six months or face an additional 25 months
in prison.

But, facing a £7m confiscation order, other Johnson family members,
who had received sentences of between eight and 11 years for
conspiracy to commit burglary two years ago, were thought to have
pocketed much smaller sums.

The defence counsel successfully argued they were of limited means
because they sold the stolen goods for a fraction of their value and
spent the money on a “hand-to-mouth existence”.

The gang claimed, for example, that they made just £15,200 each from
the raid at Ramsbury Manor, the home of property tycoon and
connoisseur collector Harry Hyams and the site of the most valuable
domestic burglary ever committed in the UK. An independent expert put
the value of the 300-plus items taken from Ramsbury at £23m. The gang
said they had accepted just £76,000 for the cache from a ‘fence’.

In total, the court decided Richard ‘Chad’ Johnson, 34, had made
£135,768 from criminal activity during the period April 2005 and
October 2006; Michael Nicholls, 30, had made £155,978 while Albi
Johnson, 27, had made £25,602.

As it was deemed the men had no current assets, each received only
nominal penalties of up to £178 although under the terms of the
Proceeds of Crime Act, they are now liable for life to have any money
they may come into seized by the authorities. They left the court
saying the outcome was “better than a not guilty verdict” having given
the judge a ‘thumbs up’.

The case of 55-year-old Ricky Johnson was dismissed as the judge was
unconvinced the family patriarch had actively taken part in the
burglaries.

Judge Critchlow conceded that Ramsbury treasures such as an early
Tompion bracket clock c.1675 (for which a value of £240,000 was given)
and a silver-mounted ebony barometer by Daniel Delander (£650,000)
were now lost to the black market. But he found it “improbable” that
the family did not have further antiques stashed away.

It emerged at the hearing that, in a bid to persuade the judge to be
lenient, O’Loughlin had arranged for stolen items valued at £643,000
to be returned while he was behind bars.

O’Loughlin’s surrender of 93 pieces was thought to be the first time
someone being pursued under the Proceeds of Crime Act has volunteered
information from prison that has led to the recovery of stolen
property. The court heard that some of the stolen antiques were
recovered from the Cleeve Prior Travellers’ Site, where all five
members of the gang lived. Of the 93 items, 42 were from Ramsbury,
Warneford Place and The Manor.

Simon Burns, prosecuting, told the judge there was an “inescapable
inference” to be drawn that the family still had knowledge of the
whereabouts of more booty.

The haul of some of the stolen Ramsbury items, found secreted in an
underground bunker on the outskirts of Stratford-upon-Avon some months
after the raid in 2006, was valued here at £2.3m, approximately one
tenth of the value of the total theft.

May 11th, 2010

Posted In: Art Thief

Stolen gold Buddha statue recovered
http://www.dailynews.lk/2010/05/10/sec04.asp

Edward Weerasinghe – Kelaniya group correspondent

Kiribathgoda police has arrested three suspects wanted in connection with stealing a Gold Buddha statue worth over Rs. 250 lakhs. Western Province North DIG H. S. Dayananda, SSP Kelaniya Kithsiri Ganegama, ASP Kelaniya Anton Sirikumara directing investigations conducted by OIC Kiribathgoda Police I. P. Chaminda Edirisuriya and SI S. N. S. Samarasinghe and a police party recovered the stolen Gold Buddha statue in a CTB bus plying from Hanwella to Colombo on last Sunday night.

According to police investigations the Buddha statue was robbed by a gang of four who entered the house of Former PS Member Kelaniya Gaminie Senadeera at Dalugama, Kelaniya. The main culprit, who is from Horana is evading arrest.

Police also said that a person had come to buy this Buddha Statue from the main suspect for Rs. 250 lakhs. He had brought an advance of Rs 50 lakhs, OIC Chaminda Edirisuriya said.

The recovered Buddha statue was carved in 1864 and weighs 10 kilos. The Owner of the Buddha statue said the valuable Buddha statue was given to him by his father for daily veneration.

May 11th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

“An antiques dealer who sold a fake Pablo Picasso painting for $2 million has pleaded guilty to witness tampering and lying to the FBI, authorities said Friday. Tatiana Khan, 70, of West Hollywood, could be sentenced to as much as 25 years in federal prison, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles. But she probably will serve less than 21 months under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, he said.”…

May 10th, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

Police seek help finding art thief
http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/20100508/SAG0801/305089980/police-seek-help-finding-art-thief

May 08, 2010 06:00 am | By Ryan Tumilty | St. Albert Gazette
The RCMP is looking for help finding art thieves who took a set of paintings from a vehicle last month.

The paintings were left in the trunk of a vehicle parked at Red Willow Park near Boudreau and Sturgeon roads on April 25 between 5:15 p.m. and 6 p.m.

During that time, someone broke into the vehicle’s trunk and took four pieces of art worth about $500.

St. Albert RCMP Cpl. Laurel Kading said officers usually recommend people lock valuables away in their trunk out of sight, but in this case that didn’t deter the thief.

“It was broken into and it is unusual to see something like that happen.”

Kading said the thief didn’t break into the rest of the vehicle, but police can’t say for certain if it was a random or targeted theft.

The four pieces of art include; Winter on the Farm and Winter Woods by Ardath Buckaway, as well as Good Food No Crowds by Jack Tessier and Duck Lake in Summer II by Diane Stone.

The RCMP is looking for anyone who might have been near the parking lot or seen anything suspicious in the area.

Kading said any information would be useful and they would also like people in the art world to keep an eye out for the paintings.

Anyone who may have witnessed the theft is being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or the St. Albert detachment at 780-458-7700.

May 9th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, Art Thief

Centuries-old stolen coin treasure recovered
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle09.asp?xfile=data/theuae/2010/May/theuae_May206.xml&section=theuae

8 May 2010, 10:03 PM
Abu Dhabi Police have recovered centuries-old stolen coins belonging to the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The archaeological treasure was 
excavated by unlicensed drillers’ 
20 years ago at Halat Al Bahrani 
Island, behind the Abu Dhabi Intercontinental Hotel.

The treasure consists of 33 coins of various shapes and sizes carrying different dates from across the emirates.

Some of them were cast in Constantinople — the capital of the Roman Empire, Arab and European countries.

Colonel Hamad Al Hamadi, Director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Abu Dhabi Police, said the relics had been in the possession of a Syrian investor for about 20 years.

The treasure was given to him to hide by his friend, a Syrian of Swedish origin who is living outside the country, after he got them extracted through unlicensed excavations during his work as a marine driller on the island within the Abu Dhabi sea territories.

Hamadi said his department received information from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Heritage and Culture (ADACH), which was asked by the UAE Embassy in Stockholm to conduct an investigation about a collection of rare antiquities belonging to the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The coins, he added, were considered by archaeologists as a precious treasure that should be returned to the UAE.

Unveiling more details about the collection, Colonel Dr Rashid Mohammed Bu Rasheed, Head of the Organised Crime, CID, said the intelligence stated that a 69-year-old Syrian investor possessed it and that his 66-year-old friend, a resident of Sweden, claimed that he had lost a precious trust he had deposited with the Syrian investor 20 years ago when he was working on the island in Abu Dhabi.

He indicated that a team of specialists, who were charged with investigating the case, managed to arrest the Syrian suspect who confessed to having the coins and some shells.

He told the investigators that his Swedish friend deposited it about 20 years ago in a plastic bag containing the antiquities without being informed of where he had got them from.

The Syrian said his friend from Sweden had asked him to return to him the trust after a family row and heated argument eight years ago but, given the broken ties, he didn’t do that.

The police officer said the case was handed over to the Public Prosecution and legal measures are being taken with regard to the coins.

news@khaleejtimes.com

May 9th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Police say anger was retired West Michigan doctor’s motive for stealing furniture, artwork from Florida inn
http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/05/police_say_anger_was_west_mich.html
By Barton Deiters | The Grand Rapids Press

May 08, 2010, 7:00AM

Footage allegedly showing Roger Gemmen stealing

Roger GemmenWhen police showed Dr. Roger Gemmen a grainy surveillance video of a man carrying expensive artwork out of a hotel, Gemmen’s alleged response was direct.

“I’m not a very sophisticated criminal,” he allegedly told police this week.

The retired surgeon with stately homes in Park Township and affluent East Naples, Fla., is accused of walking off with $8,500 worth of furniture and artwork from the posh Inn on Fifth in Naples.

Gemmen, 75, has not had a license to practice since 1991 but earned enough during his career to buy a now million-dollar Lake Michigan home just north of Holland State Park and a home next to a private golf course in Florida.

The Florida home is decorated with items he took from the hotel, said Michael Herman, Naples Police Department spokesman.

A police report details the items: a wood desk priced at $2,500; paintings of sheep and Venice worth $1,000 each; a painting of a horse and carriage valued at $1,500; three paintings of ships worth a collective $1,500; and two wooden chairs with pineapple designs on the cushions worth $1,000.

The inn’s owner noticed items had been disappearing from his business since 2001 but was unable to determine how the stuff was going out the door, Herman said.

But in February, a pair of chairs upholstered in a pineapple design were taken and an employee noticed the SUV they were being loaded into had Michigan plates, Herman said.

One of the chairs reported stolen.During a March visit to the inn by Gemmen, an employee got the license number for the 1994 Toyota 4-Runner with improper registration, police said. That led authorities to his home in Florida and to Gemmen himself, who was back in the Michigan.

Police in Naples got a warrant to search the home there, and the inn’s owner identified several items, Herman said. Police then contacted Gemmen, who told authorities he was sorry for what he had done and wanted to make amends, according to a police report.

He returned to Naples on Tuesday and confessed, Herman said.

“(Gemmen) specifically told the investigators that it was not a crime of greed, but an expression of anger toward an individual,” Herman said, adding the alleged thefts do not appear to have any direct connection to the inn’s owners or employees.

“He was mad at somebody and that is how he decided to deal with it.”

Ottawa County records show Gemmen with two homes in Park Township, the one near Lake Michigan worth about $1.2 million and one on Ottawa Beach Road worth almost $400,000.

Homes in the neighborhood where Gemmen’s Florida property is located are valued around $600,000, according to Real Estate databases.

Naples police arrested Gemmen on seven counts of grand theft, which carries a maximum five years in prison. He was held in the Collier County jail, but is now free on $17,500 bond.

Gemmen has no felony convictions on his record and the Michigan Department of Community Health notes no disciplinary action taken against him when he was a licensed physician.

E-mail the author of this story: localnews@grpress.com

May 9th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

REFLECTIONS ON THE CAIRO CONFERENCE ON RESTITUTION: ENCOURAGING BEGINNING

The Conference on International Cooperation for the Protection and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage, 7-8 April 2010, Cairo, Egypt, ended with demands for the return of certain cultural artefacts which had been looted or stolen by colonial powers in the past. (2) The conference called by Zahi Hawass, the energetic and dynamic Secretary-General of the Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, was attended by several States including,  Austria, Bolivia, Chile, China, Cyprus, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Italy, Libya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Syria and the United States. Britain, France and Germany, countries holding most of the contested artefacts did not attend. One can understand that there was not much interest in inviting the countries holding the contested artefacts since their attitudes over many decades have not been generally positive or sympathetic to the idea of restitution. However, in the last few years France and Britain have returned objects to Egypt. My own position would be to invite them to attend as observers, ensuring however that they do not come to disrupt or sabotage the conference or even try to dominate proceedings as they are wont to since eventually, we would need their co-operation to achieve lasting solutions to the questions of restitution.  Besides, the USA which is a big market for stolen/looted artefacts attended as observer and we have not heard that this presence hindered the participants from achieving their aims.
read full text at: http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_cairo_conference.htm

May 7th, 2010

Posted In: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects

Rare 2000 year-old coins go missing from Fareham’s Westbury Manor Museum
http://www.locksheathpeople.co.uk/news/Rare-2000-year-old-coins-missing-Fareham-8217-s-Westbury-Manor-Museum/article-2112141-detail/article.html

By TinaGarner

Wednesday, May 05, 2010, 12:00

A collection of rare coins, have been taken from Westbury Manor Museum in Fareham, near Locks Heath on Thursday 29 April.

Tudor coin stolen from Fareham’s Westbury Manor Museum

The missing coins include two gold 2000 year old Iron Age Cheriton type’ staters around the size of a one-pound coin with a Celtic pattern on them. Also missing are 19 silver Tudor coins dating back 450 years. Two of these show Philip of Spain and Mary Tudor and the rest have images of Elizabeth I on them. The Tudor coins vary in size from a two pence piece to a 10 pence piece.

Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, Councillor Margaret Snaith-Tempia, says: “The coins belonged to Hampshire County Councils Museum Service and we are devastated that they have been stolen. It is a great loss to the local community and I would urge that they are returned safely. We are also reviewing the security at the museum to make sure this does not happen again.”

PC Faye Bell from Hampshire Constabulary said: “We are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding how these coins went missing from the display cabinet they were in, and we are very keen to hear from anyone who has information about who took them. Additionally, anyone who knows the whereabouts of the coins now should also get in touch.

If you have any information on this please contact Fareham police station on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

May 6th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, Museum thefts

Reassembled 15th-century altarpiece to go home
http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Reassembled-15th-century-altarpiece-to-go-home/20696
St Korbinian panels by Friedrich Pacher will return to the Austrian pilgrimage church

By Martin Bailey | From issue 213, May 2010
Published online 6 May 10 (Conservation)

St Korbinian altarpiece

london. A 500-year altarpiece by Friedrich Pacher has recently been reassembled and will go back to the Alpine village for which it was commissioned. The wings were lost in the mid 19th century and have been purchased after a Nazi-era restitution case.

Dating from around 1480, the St Korbinian altarpiece has now been restored and is on temporary display in Vienna’s Belvedere gallery (until 18 July), before it returns to the pilgrimage church in Assling, in East Tyrol.

The panels were made by Tyrolean painter Friedrich Pacher. In the centre of the altarpiece is a sculpture of St Korbinian by Hans Klocker. The 3.5m-high ensemble remained on Assling’s high altar until 1660, when a baroque altarpiece was installed, and the earlier one was moved to a side wall.

Between 1850 and 1864 the double-sided wings were removed, and presumably sold off. In August 1927 its predella with scenes of the life of St Korbinian was stolen, but was recovered two months later.

It was not until 1999 that the wings were identified by German art historian Ulrich Söding. They were then on loan from the Dutch state art collection to the Stedelijk Museum in Zutphen. Further research revealed that by the early 1930s they were at St Ignatius College in Valkenburg, near Maastricht. The double-sided wings had already been separated, creating four panels, of which two had also been cut down at the top and bottom. In 1936 the wings were bought by Amsterdam dealer Jacques Goudstikker, whose collection was subject to a forced sale by the Nazis in 1940. The panels then went to Hermann Göring’s hunting lodge at Carinhall (and were returned to the Netherlands after the war).

In 2006 the Dutch government restituted the Goudstikker paintings to his heirs, who consigned most of them to Christie’s in 2007. The two pairs of wing paintings were sold as different lots, which means that they might have become separated after more than five centuries. The outer pair fetched £24,000 and the inner pair £192,000. Both were bought by the Tyrol authorities.

Conservation of the wings has proved complex. The double-sided wings had been sawn in two, and the wooden panels had then been thinned and later mounted on a chipboard support. The previous restoration, in 1963, was very poorly done, and retouched colours had aged and whitened, leaving blotches.

At the Vienna conservation studio of the Bundes denkmalamt (federal monument office) the ensemble was examined with x-rays and infrared reflectography, revealing Pacher’s underdrawing. The panels were cleaned and the damaged 1963 retouchings were removed and redone. The two which had been cut down were brought back to their original dimensions, with modern additions. The wings were then inserted into new frames, so that they can be displayed as originally intended.

May 6th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

Iran police probes serial bust thefts
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=125374&sectionid=351020105
Tue, 04 May 2010 05:26:50 GMT
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Serial thieves stole 10 busts off their pedestals in Tehran
Police in Tehran has initiated investigations into the serial theft of statues and Iranian social celebrity busts amid reports of the theft of another bust.

“The Tehran attorney general is looking into the capital’s serial statue thefts,” Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi told reporters on Monday.

Jafari-Dolatabadi made the comment amid the deluge of statute thefts in Tehran. The latest report gives the tenth statue as being stolen from a busy part of the metropolis.

The Avicenna was the 10th statue to be stolen in center of Tehran. Ibn Sina — also known by the Latinized version of his name Avicenna — was a celebrated physician, astronomer, alchemist, chemist, logician, mathematician, metaphysician, philosopher, physicist, poet, scientist and theologian.

The bronze sculpture of the Iranian contemporary poet, Mohammad Hossein Shahriar, was the first bust to be stolen from the courtyard of Tehran’s City Theater.

Busts of Sattar Khan and Baqer Khan were the next targets to be taken off their pedestals in the streets of Tehran. The two figures are Iranian freedom fighters and key figures in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution.

Tehran houses 500 statues of which industrious thieves have stolen ten so far.

NAT/MTM/HRF

May 5th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Historic Items Stolen from Kedleston Hall
http://www.aboutmyarea.co.uk/Derbyshire/Derby/DE74/News/Local-News/162990-Historic-Items-Stolen-from-Kedleston-Hall

Published: 4th May 2010 17:42
In the early hours of the morning of Sunday 2 May 2010 there was a break in at the National Trust’s Kedleston Hall and a number of pieces of silver, including a wine cooler were stolen.

Kedleston Hall in DerbyThe intruder alarms were activated in the building immediately and the police attended the scene. Unfortunately, the thieves were not caught.

The objects, which were located in the Eastern Museum and all of Indian silver, include a silver bowl, a silver frame containing a photograph of Lady Curzon, two silver caskets and a silver wine cooler. The objects were predominantly acquired by Lord Curzon whilst he was Viceroy of India (1889 – 1905), with the exception of the wine cooler which was made in 1916 by Francis Adams out of pieces of Indian silver.

Victoria Flanagan, Property Manager of Kedleston Hall said:

“For the National Trust, as a registered charity, losing these objects which are irreplaceable and of great importance to the collection is extremely sad. Most of the objects were acquired by Lord Curzon during his time as Viceroy of India in the early 20th century and are intrinsic to the history of Kedleston. We would urge anyone who has any information to get in contact with the police.”

The National Trust takes the safety of its buildings and contents very seriously and is working with the police during their investigation.

The National Trust and Derbyshire Police are appealing to anyone who has any information about the theft and the stolen objects to contact Derbyshire Constabulary on 0345 123 3333 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

May 5th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Trial for man accused of stealing books
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5g1AvPg6YLKv7L3YfkCWDknnVs4JA
(UKPA) – 23 hours ago

A 40-year-old man is to go on trial accused of stealing valuable antique books from a world-famous library in London.

William Jacques is charged with stealing 13 volumes of Nouvelle Iconographies des Camellias by Ambroise Verschaffelt from the Royal Horticultural Society’s London library.

Jacques, who was arrested on Christmas Day in Selby, North Yorkshire, denies stealing the books between December 10 2006 and March 15 2007.

He also denies going equipped with a Senate House library card to commit theft.

Jacques, of no fixed address, is on remand in custody and will go on trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

The volumes contained an array of coloured plates of camellias by the 19th-century Belgian author and explanatory text.

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library, in Vincent Square, central London, is among the best in the world.

It holds books, journals, pictures and art on practical gardening, garden history, garden plants and design dating back to 1514.

May 5th, 2010

Posted In: library theft

‘Monuments Men’ recovered art stolen by the Nazis
http://telegram.com/article/20100426/NEWS/4260395/1101
Author describes WWII heroics; 3 men had ties to Worcester Art Museum

Robert Edsel talks about soldiers who located and saved thousands of works of art stolen from European museums by the Nazis. (T&G Staff/JIM COLLINS)

By Kim Ring TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
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Nearly 65 years after the end of World War II, works of art stolen by the Nazis and numbering in the hundreds of thousands remain missing.

But in the years immediately after the war, 5 million items of cultural significance were returned thanks to the Monuments Men, an obscure group of museum directors, curators and others in the field of art.

They joined the military and were charged with finding missing art, usually stolen by the Nazis but sometimes stashed away for safekeeping by museum curators, and with returning it. Many times they put themselves in peril.

Some of those involved were from Massachusetts, including Lt. Cmdr. Perry Blythe Cott, Lt. Cmdr. George L. Stout and Pfc. Charles H. Sawyer, who all had ties to the Worcester Art Museum. Yesterday, members of the Stephen Salisbury Society heard of their exploits from author Robert M. Edsel.

Mr. Edsel explained that after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a telegram was sent to museums around the country notifying them of an emergency meeting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They would discuss plans to save culturally important items, including artwork.

The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program was soon born.

Adolf Hitler, who had hoped to become an artist or an architect, made lists of artwork he wanted displayed in the Fuhrermuseum he planned to build in his home town. He kept log books of the artwork he had stolen or bought, as well.

During yesterday’s presentation, Mr. Edsel, who wrote, “Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” showed slides depicting the discovery of artwork stashed in a copper mine.

The group also found gold, currency, and paintings by Rembrandt, da Vinci and Manet inside a salt mine. The works were returned.

At most, there were 350 Monuments Men and women from 13 countries. When other troops were leaving after the war, their work was continuing at full speed. They returned home in 1951.

Most people have never heard of the group, and it’s something that bothered Mr. Edsel. After he learned of their sacrifices, he set about making sure their story was told. He developed the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, which works to find members of the group and to find missing works so they can be returned.

The foundation recently helped return to Germany the Gemaldegalerie Linz Album XIII, one of Hitler’s valued books in which he listed artwork he possessed.

It was, like many items, taken by a soldier as a souvenir. When he learned it was significant, he worked with the Monuments Men to return it.

The album is one of 31 believed kept by Hitler. Of those, 19 are believed to have survived the war and others are believed to have been destroyed, according to the Monuments Men newsletter.

Mr. Edsel said he believes we are entering a time in which some of the missing items may surface.

As soldiers from that era die and their families discover items they may have brought back from the war, he is hopeful they will contact the group and try to return the items to their rightful owners.

He said he hopes the public speaking he does, his book and the work of the remaining Monuments Men will encourage young people to have an interest in hearing the stories of the Monuments Men — and women. He said they may be encouraged to take a second look at the things their grandparents have and ask about them.

Items taken can never be sold, he explained, and as they are passed from generation to generation, their significance may be overlooked.

Those interested in learning more about the Monuments Men can visit www.monumentsmenfoundation.org.

May 3rd, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

Swansea archaeologist works to send stolen artefacts home
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/2010/05/03/swansea-archaeologist-works-to-send-stolen-artefacts-home-91466-26364251/
May 3 2010 by Robin Turner, Western Mail

LIKE Indiana Jones, Dr David Gill delights in getting his hands on precious antiquities.

But while his movie counterpart is often seen plucking priceless artefacts from ancient tombs, Dr Gill does the process in reverse – and sends the relics back to where they came from.

The Welsh academic works across the world in persuading museums to return ancient artefacts to Egypt, Italy, Greece and other countries suffering a plague of history looting.

The 48-year-old, a reader in Mediterranean archaeology at Swansea University, most recently worked with two other experts to persuade London-based fine art dealers Bonhams to withdraw four Roman sculptures from auction, amid claims they were stolen from archaeological sites overseas.

Photographs studied by Dr Gill suggested the sculptures – funerary busts and a marble statue of a youth from the second century AD – were illicitly excavated.

Dr Gill, who lives in Sketty, Swansea, said: “The looting of human history has become a full-scale industry.

“In some countries like Italy, for example, some are literally using mechanical diggers on historical sites to rip up artefacts for sale.

“These have tended to reach auction rooms in places like New York and London via Switzerland, though the Swiss are now trying to tighten controls.

“Archaeological sites are being decimated and the few treasures taken away for financial gain lose their context. Strip them from that context and we lose dating, related objects and information about who used them.

“Presenting a looted object means that we value the object as a beautiful thing but we do not care about the society and culture that created it. And that is an uncivilised view.”

But it’s a lucrative business.

Dr Gill and his colleagues Dr Christopher Chippindale, the curator for British Collections at Cambridge University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and ex-Greek government archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis, say £300m worth of antiquities have been sold at just two major auction houses in the past 12 years.

Looting of ancient artefacts has a long history going back to the tomb raiders of ancient Egypt.

Rome has been sacked seven times and other famous examples include the sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade, the Sack of Baghdad in 1258 and the looting of Aztec gold by Spanish conquistadors.

Later came more careful excavations like Howard Carter and Lord Caernarvon’s famous excavation of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1923 with precious artefacts being taken from Egypt to Britain, something that would now be regarded as sacrilege.

But it was the wholesale theft of priceless Babylonian treasures from Baghdad following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 that highlighted a modern revival in culture theft.

Historical sites in Central America and areas in Cambodia, Italy, Mali and China have also seen a big rise in ancient relic thefts in the past 20 years.

Dr Gill said: “There was a Unesco convention passed in 1970 which many countries have now signed making it illegal to import and export cultural property.

“But it still goes on with some private collectors and even museums turning a blind eye.”

A spokesman for Bonhams auctioneers said of its decision to withdraw the Roman sculptures: “Whenever a serious question is raised about an item’s provenance we withdraw it from sale pending an internal investigation. We take rigorous care to ensure that we only sell items that have a clear provenance.”

May 3rd, 2010

Posted In: Auction Houses and stolen objects, looting and illegal art traffickers

An artful robbery
http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100502/ART/705019996/1007
Claire Berlinski

• Last Updated: May 01. 2010 2:39PM UAE / May 1. 2010 10:39AM GMT

Officials at the State Painting and Sculpture Museum in Ankara aren’t sure when the theft of paintings by the late-Ottoman era landscapist Hoca Ali Riza happened. Claudia Wiens

Recently, a Turkish museum’s staff discovered that a large number of famous Ottoman-era drawings from their collection were forgeries, the originals probably stolen years ago. Claire Berlinski finds that the theft of valuable artworks across the world is more common than many think

During a recent inventory of Turkey’s State Painting and Sculpture Museum in Ankara, museum personnel noticed that some of the frames looked wrong. On further inspection, they discovered to their horror that a significant number of the collection’s famous drawings by the late-Ottoman era landscape artist Hoca Ali Rza, as well as numerous other important works, were forgeries. Not only that, they were photocopies – forgeries so crude that in principle, a child should have seen the difference.

Thirteen paintings by Hoca Ali Riza were stolen. Claudia Wiens

The ensuing investigation suggested the originals might have been stolen as much as a generation ago. It had to have been an inside job, investigators concluded, and could only have been done with the co-operation of the museum’s staff.

Every organ of government close to the museum has come under suspicion of incompetence or corruption. Fatih Ozgul of the Turkish National Police notes that the investigation has unique procedural aspects: “This is an exceptional case,” he says, “because the Ministry of Culture and Tourism might also be subject to negligence claims. So there are two investigations, one is administrative, the other is judicial.”

The story has generated scandalised newspaper headlines in Turkey and given rise to a great many conspiracy theories. The con, according to local rumours, involved officials at the highest levels of government. Quite a few column inches have been devoted to the shamefully haphazard curation of Istanbul’s state museums.

What is most interesting about this case, however, is the public reaction to it, and what it suggests both about the neuroses of Turkish society and the philosophical problems raised by the crime of forgery itself.

In truth, most museums around the world suffer from inadequate security. Crimes like this are hardly a unique inculpation of Turkish society: according to the international think tank Association for Research into Crimes against Art (Arca), art crime is the third-highest grossing criminal enterprise worldwide, behind only drugs and arms trafficking.

What is unique here is the seeming belief among the Turkish press that everything in Turkey is tainted by official malfeasance, that conspiracies are omnipresent, and that even the most beautiful things are apt, on closer inspection, to prove a sham. The state of Turkey’s museums is a particularly sore point, because nothing says “European” more than a museum staffed by people who seem to know a lot about art.

To be sure, the Europeans aren’t impressed by this scandal or what it suggests about local museum standards. Mark Durney of Arca notes that charcoal drawings such as Riza’s are extremely fragile. “Smudging and light exposure are the two main agents of deterioration to worry about,” he says. The theft, he says, “raises questions about the cleaning, conservation, curating, documenting, storage and site security, and general museum practices employed by the institution”.

In principle, these drawings should have been displayed behind a clear plastic frame. They were not. As some officials here have suggested, they might well be better off wherever they are now.

“This has been the situation for more than four decades,” agrees the corporate art consultant Karoly Allioti, a specialist in the Turkish art market who now works in Paris. “And it’s not a surprise to anyone. The Ottomans had fantastic book-keeping habits, yet the Republic is strongly failing at this.”

Local art critics are savaging the museum’s security system and the common practice of lending works of art to government officials to decorate their homes. Much of the collection in Ankara was neither photographed nor properly registered, which makes it much less likely it will ever be found.

Art dealers here may have been appalled by the revelations, but they weren’t remotely shocked.“This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone in our sector,” says the art director Kerimcan Guleryuz of Istanbul’s Gallery x-ist.

Nor is this the first major museum security scandal in Turkey to make headlines. In 2006, the theft of rare artefacts – part of the so-called Lydian Hoard – from a rural museum in Western Turkey generated particularly rueful attention, given that Turkey had lobbied intensely for years to see those very artefacts returned from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum’s director, who had been one of the key players in the campaign to see the artefacts returned, was arrested and convicted of the theft.

In 2007, the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced a campaign to tighten museum security. Technology would be upgraded, it said, the staff educated, and hi-tech security systems, including CCTV, eye and fingerprint scanning systems would be installed. However, so far little has changed.

But nor is Turkey the worst nation in the world where art theft is concerned – not by a long shot. In fact, according to Interpol, the countries most affected are France and Italy. This makes sense: bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is.

But it also begs the question as to why the Turkish press are being so critical. If the French and the Italians can’t keep their museums secure, it is not because their society is unusually corrupt, and it’s certainly not because they’re not European enough. Russia, rocked several years ago by the discovery that a curator at the Hermitage had made off with hundreds of priceless items, recently ordered a massive national audit of its museums, the first undertaken in the post-Soviet era. The audit’s findings suggest that at least 160,000 pieces are missing.

It’s usually an inside job – Turkey isn’t special in this regard, either. Forgery in particular, notes Haldun Dostoglu of Istanbul’s Galeri Nev, thrives in countries where institutions aren’t well-equipped to distinguish between the real and the fake. “Speculative art market actors prepare a nice atmosphere for such attempts,” he adds. According to industry estimates, forgeries may account for 10 per cent to 50 per cent of art for sale on the international market.

Another key point has also been lost in the hand-wringing: the forgeries were discovered, suggesting that attention to inventory is actually improving. “Personally,” says Durney, “I applaud the fact that the museum has commissioned periodic reviews of its inventory despite the obvious risks that it can pose to its reputation and public support if objects are unaccounted for.”

So why, then, have the Turkish people been so hard on themselves about these revelations?

The question suggests not only the corrosive levels of social distrust in Turkey, but some of the rich problems in the philosophy of aesthetics raised by the notion of forgery. If no one noticed for years that these were photocopies – and no one minded – why were they any less valuable than the originals?

“To answer requires a review and investigation into concepts of authenticity, aesthetics, and how we perceive, or experience, art,” says Durney. “Authenticity is a cultural construct of the modern western world. It stems from the enlightenment thinkers’ search for truth via philosophical inquiry, rational thinking, etc. More simply put, when one discovers a work thought to be original is a fake, he or she feels wronged.”

“The forger betrays our trust. The self-giving on which all human relationship depends,” writes the philosopher of aesthetics Francis Sparshott, arguing that the danger of forgery is cynicism and disillusionment. “Essentially,” says Durney, “a fake or forgery undermines one’s search for truth through art, and thus chaos ensues.”

May 3rd, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries, Museum thefts

Nine bronze statues ‘stolen in Tehran serial theft’
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/100502/world/iran_culture_art_statue_theft_1

Sun May 2, 7:10 AM

TEHRAN (AFP) – Nine bronze statues, some of famous Iranians and costing thousands of dollars, have been stolen in Tehran in what is said to be serial thievery, Fars news agency reported on Sunday.

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The thefts, committed over the past few weeks, have prompted city officials to stop erecting new statues in the Iranian capital, the report said, quoting a municipal official.

One of the stolen statues was of famous Iranian poet Shahriar while others were of artisans, thinkers and heroes of the 1906 constitutional revolution, the report said, adding that the ninth bust, stolen on Saturday, was of a contemporary lexicographer.

The stolen statues were worth 12,000 to 50,000 dollars each, newspapers said.

“After the serial theft of these bronze statues in Tehran, work on erecting new ones will be halted,” Mojtaba Mousavi, an official from Tehran Municipality told Fars.

The ruling affected at least five statues which were about to be erected, including one of Ibn Sina, the famous Iranian first millenium polymath, he said.

“Some of the statues were stolen during the Nowrouz holidays (the Iranian new year which began on March 21) and some of them in recent days,” Mousavi said, adding that a complaint had been filed with the judiciary.

Mousavi said the robbers had the tools and time to “uproot” the statues which were heavy and encrusted in cement.

He suggested that the theft may have been committed to procure the bronze for melting down and resale.

Mousavi said that there were still several statues at various places across Tehran but that “guarding them all the time by police” was difficult.

May 3rd, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Sweden to hand back historic Danish document

Sweden to hand back historic Danish document


Posted on30 April 2010. Tags: culture, Denmark, document, history, jyske log, museums, Sweden

Long running bartering between library directors has led to an agreement by Sweden to return an ancient text to Denmark.

The Danish Code of Jutland, which enshrines property ownership and has been compared to the British Magna Carta, was originally signed in 1241 by King Valdemar II. It has, however, been housed in the Stockholm Royal Library for the past 300 years as part of stolen war booty.

Denmark has been unsuccessfully requesting the return of the ‘Jyske Lov’ for years, but now the director of the Royal Danish Library, Roland Kolding Nielsen, has announced he has reached an agreement with his Swedish counterpart. The topic of the return of war booty has widespread ramifications across European museums, and curators have expressed fears that a precedent for such handovers could see their collections emptied overnight. Therefore, the new agreement is likely to involve some form of exchange, with the Swedes able to swap the Jyske Lov for a culturally significant item held in Denmark.

“I’m going to talk with my Swedish colleagues and see if we have anything they might be interested in,” said Danish Culture Minister Per Stig Moller, adding that he will do everything possible to find a suitable replacement.

The Jyske Lov – referred to in Latin as the Codex Holmeinsis – provides Danes with the basic right to privately own property and protect it from raiders, reports the Copenhagen Post.

An excerpt reads, “with law shall land [i.e. the nation] be built. And if all men would keep what is theirs, and let others enjoy the same rights, there would be no need of law. […] If the land had no law, then he would have the most who could grab the most.”

May 1st, 2010

Posted In: restitution